The AFT and Freelancers Union announced a new partnership on July 11 that will enable contingent faculty across the country to access tailored benefits and connect, share and learn with others in their professions.
The partnership brings together the nation's largest union of contingent faculty and the nation's largest union of freelance workers, with a mission to support the lives, needs and opportunities of this growing new workforce.
The announcement was made at the AFT convention and follows Freelancers Union's earlier announcement of its National Benefits Platform at the Clinton Global Initiative's CGI America 2014 meeting last month. The National Benefits Platform enables any independent worker in America to search by ZIP code for a suite of tailored benefits available to them.
The partnership with the AFT will feature a unique Web portal that will allow contingent faculty access to the programs and services of both the AFT and Freelancers Union. Contingent faculty will have access to this new online community during the fall semester.
"This partnership provides access to much-needed benefits contingent faculty wouldn't otherwise have, as well as access to information, resources and supports to improve their lives and professions. It also provides an opportunity to connect with contingent faculty across America who are facing the same challenges and issues," says AFT President Randi Weingarten. "And while we continue to look for new ways for contingent faculty to use their collective voice to advance their work, we will also continue to advocate for an end to exploitative contingent faculty employment, in favor of a system that is more sustainable for faculty and students."
This new partnership offers a substantial portion of America's college teaching workforce access to services, benefits and a way to connect with one another. There are more than 1 million contingent faculty across the country, making up approximately 75 percent of the college teaching workforce. Seven in 10 are part-time, and most lack employer-provided benefits.
"Randi Weingarten and the AFT are some of the smartest long-term thinkers in the labor movement," said Sara Horowitz, founder and executive director of Freelancers Union. "The workforce is changing, and the ways to support them need to adapt, too. We are tremendously excited about our partnership on the National Benefits Platform and look forward to building a new way forward with the AFT."
[AFT press release]