The 64-14 Split at AAUP Means Part-Timers Should Look Elsewhere For Help


Both of the candidates running for President of the American Association of University Professors are self-identfied “contingents.” I am not going to rehash that convo again. Since both of the candidates for president have said that the AAUP needs to increase revenue and then use that money to organize part-time faculty, I thought it would be interesting to look at the AAUP’s balance sheet. To do that, I ventured over the the Department of Labor’s website. Thanks to the current Labor Secretary, all unions have to fill out very detailed forms about how they get their money, and how they spend it. Evidently, when the Secretary implemented these policies, NEA challenged them in court. Thankfully, the union lost the case and now union members and anyone else curious about the finances of non-profit organizations with revenues over $250K per year, can have a look at exactly how an organization is spending its money.

As when I wrote about the AFT, whose officials tell anyone who’ll listen that the union is committed to organizing part-timers, I was looking for the percentage of the AAUP’s annual revenue spent on representational activities. Well, I have to say after looking over the AAUP’s 2007 LM-2 document filed with the Department of Labor, I am left speechless. The organization spent just 1/7th of its revenue on representational activities in 2007. For those of you not teaching developmental math and fractions this semester, that’s 14 percent of the total revenue. Total revenue in 2007 clocked in at $7.1 million dollars. The group spent just $1.01 million dollars on representational activities, including organizing. The staff spent a whopping $4.593 million on general overhead, union administration and benefits for themselves. This means that for every dollar AAUP takes in from dues, 64.6 cents are spent on simply paying staff to run the joint. Any restaurant that served 64.6 percent of its food and drink to the staff would quickly go under. Evidently, at AAUP, they’re very good swimmers.

Contrary to what the two candidates for AAUP presidency claim, AAUP doesn’t need more revenue in order to do more organizing. Spending 64.6 percent of revenue on running an organization, and just 14 percent on the mission of the organization is, well, downright disturbing. Volunteer officers of the organization, in total, were paid around $28,000 in compensation, a pittance, really. On the other hand, there are a handful of staff who earn six-figure salaries, all of them men, and a large number of support staff who earn salaries from the mid $20s to the mid $50s. If unions are about sharing the wealth, at AAUP no one has gotten the memo.

Looking closer at staffing, AAUP member dues supported 42 staff who were paid a total of $1.527 million dollars in salaries in 2007. However, of that total spent on staff salaries, the pay of just five men accounted for 38 percent of the total, or $586,077. No woman employed at AAUP is a member of the 100K boys’ club. The similarities to the system of pay between full-time and part-time faculty are too obvious to pass up. And speaking of part-time faculty, the 45,841 member organization didn’t have any part-time faculty listed on its membership status form.

Current President Cary Nelson signed the financial documents so must be aware of the issues surrounding operational versus representational breakdown. That his goal is to get more money for AAUP without coupling an increase in revenue with pushing for a complete analysis and reorganization of the operational system is sheer folly. It is no wonder AAUP membership is stagnating. Spending just 14 percent of revenue on organizing can lead to little else but stagnation. As reflected in the financial picture, AAUP gathers revenue to do little more than keep itself afloat.

At AAUP, it’s time for the directors and elected leadership to focus less on policy statements, and more on income and expense statements. Until then, and even perhaps after, I think part-timers can count AAUP out of the larger battle to help organize temporary faculty. The organization has a bigger battle ahead of itself to right what has become a seriously listing ship.

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  1. MB,

    Thanks a lot for stopping by and posting. I agree that AAUP represents (symbolically) the Academy. That’s why it’s so very disappointing to see the financial schenanigans. If my financial analyses are incomplete, go for it. What am I missing? My guess is that what was filed with the DOL was not exactly what was presented to the Executive Board or the membership.

    AFT did the same thing. They posted financials on the AFT web site for members to download; those financials made available to members understate political donations by almost 50 percent, for instance. There are other troubling differences. Unlike a document submitted to a government agency and signed by a union president and treasurer, posting an Excel spreadsheet to your organization’s web site that is misleading is not a a criminal act. The Secretary of Labor is really on the ball with this policy for forcing unions to air their financials to members.

    Compare what you were given with what was filed with the DOL. Then, let me know what I missed. I’d definitely be curious to have you expand on your comments.

  2. I am very sorry about the link to the DOL. It has been repaired. Just promise me you’ll have some Valium at hand for after you’ve read through the filings from your respective college, state and/or national locals.

  3. I always felt the AAUP was a joke. Your investigation proves the self-serving purpose of its leaders.

  4. Thank you so much for telling us about the DOL site and the NEA obstruction attempt, etc.

    However, it’s worse than what you described. Go to the AAUP Website at and you discover that Nelson wants to split the organization into three parts — only one of which would be a labor organization.

    So, only one part of the organization would, in the future, be subject to that DOL filing requirement. And all that money that is spent on the staff would be — yes, that’s right: HIDDEN FROM VIEW.

    Clever, eh? As the saying goes, nice work if you can get it….

  5. As someone who has long pushed for more attention to organizing contingent faculty, more representation of contingent faculty in faculty organizations of all kinds, and for solidarity between faculty serving contingently as graduate employees and faculty serving contingently as adjuncts, I’d like to agree with the general intention of these remarks.

    But the analysis of AAUP’s finances that you present is incomplete and may do the argument a disservice.

    AAUP–on a budget smaller than many disciplinary organizations–shoulders activities for the entire profession, including very expensive activities for non-members, that no other organization also doing collective-bargaining representation does.

    Additionally, as is well-known and widely reported, the organization is undergoing substantial and delicate re-organization to deal precisely with these questions, creating a financially separate foundation, collective-bargaining organization, and advocacy organization to continue speaking on issues for the profession.

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