ASU workers have announced the formation of a union chapter with United Campus Workers of Arizona, working to "advance academic justice in fulfilling our university's public mission," according to the chapter's website.
The union looks to address "long-term concerns about job security, workload, wages, benefits, health and safety, and to advocate for increased state support for public higher education," according to a statement from UCW Arizona.
The chapter was announced on Twitter Thursday evening by multiple faculty members and the ASU Community of Care Coalition, a group of faculty, staff and students who formed over the summer opposed to the University's fall in-person reopening, after the University announced it canceled spring break next semester. The reasons behind the Coalition's formation, such as the lack of employee and student voice in the University's decision making process in response to COVID-19, have also been key in the formation of the union.
"I am a contingent faculty member and my paycheck is the sole income for my household," wrote Matthew Casey, associate director of online programs and a clinical assistant professor in an email. "Each year I, like staff and contingent faculty members across the ASU campuses, hope and pray for contract renewal.
"By organizing across the student-faculty-staff divide, as united campus workers, we can ensure that the university's laudable commitment to access and innovation coincides with a commitment to just employment practices," Casey wrote.
The chapter is a "wall-to-wall union," meaning it is open for all ASU employees, including student workers, to join and unite "together to build power and resources to sustain our movement for justice and address specific-job concerns at" ASU, according to the website.
Arizona is a right-to-work state, meaning union membership is not required for workers. Workers have the right to join a union, or not to, and cannot be fired for making either choice.
The Arizona Board of Regents, which governs Arizona's public universities, "does not oppose labor organization membership of employees," according to its policy manual, but it does not have legal authority to grant bargaining rights.
UCW Arizona launched in September at UA and has over 500 members. The new group is part of the national Communications Workers of America union, which has over 30,000 members in higher education in more than 15 states, the statement said.
To join, ASU workers must pay membership dues that are based on the worker's current salary. Prices range from $8 to $60.
Senior reporter Piper Hansen contributed to the reporting of this article.
Editor's Note: The story was updated on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 9:15 p.m. to include a clarification on how many members the Communications Workers of America union has in higher education.
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Wyatt Myskow is the project manager at The State Press, where he oversees enterprise stories for the publication. He also works at The Arizona Republic, where he covers the cities of Peoria and Surprise.