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In the USA, you can negotiate for yourself even at a unionized university. For example, if the university changes your work load - getting you to do something that was not part of your job - you can ask for compensation. If, for example, you become a program director, especially at the urging of the administration, you can ask for compensation.


Second, there is the other issue Anon asked about: negotiating with unionized schools. Although I am no expert on unionization, to the best of my knowledge once a university is unionized US Federal Law prohibits one-on-one negotiations--as unionization is a legal status, entitling both sides (the university and its unionized employees) to collective bargaining. If I am wrong about this, please do let me know--but this is my understanding.


This is close, but not quite right. What is right is that the terms of the contract, which are going to confine negotiations, are themselves between the union and the employer. But within those terms, plenty of negotiation is possible (depending upon the particulars of the contract). Many (most?) academic unions get contracts which allow for some leeway, especially those academic unions at universities with significant research aims.

I say this having negotiated my employment at a union shop.

Marcus Arvan

Craig and Negotiating: Thanks for clarifying things!


As another prof at a unionized institution, I'll add to what Negotiating and Craig said above. At least in my case, the union's contract with the university had little if any impact on the particular details of my negotiation. The union contract included a salary floor, so any offer the university made would be above that. But the union didn't establish an upper limit. Also, a lot of things that you might ask for in a negotiation (e.g., summer salary, reduced teaching load in year 1, pre-tenure sabbatical, etc.) probably won't be determined by the union's negotiation with the university. What's likely to be determined in advance are things like annual raises, insurance options and fees, various protections for sick leave, etc.

Also, you may want to consult the union during your negotiations. They can probably provide you with details on salaries of previously hired faculty in your department and similar departments. And they can also look over your offer to make sure everything's in order.


I have held TT positions in philosophy at two unionized institutions: one a large community college, the other a small state university. In general I'd second the observations and advice from Unionized, Craig, and Negotiating above.

Note that until you actually accept the offer (and I suppose even until you are formally hired) the union does not represent you and cannot bargain on your behalf. This is not to say they can't offer you informal advice.


Just to follow up on the union offering you advice, which Ben and Unionized have mentioned: I've seen faculty union websites advertise that they're happy to give you advice on negotiating your offer.

So the original poster might want to check out the union's website for that offer, or at least to read the relevant collective agreement, which should be posted publicly somewhere.

Shay Logan

I just can’t understand what impact a spare electron or two among the faculty could possibly have. Who cares if the faculty is ionized or not!?


Shay -- that took me a second, but I laughed.

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