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The public sector of higher education is expanding rapidly, while the private sector is not. As a result, both the number and proportion of faculty members employed by public colleges and universities are increasing. It is clear that the current debate about collective bargaining for public servants is of profound importance to higher education. Until recently, this problem had been of no practical concern. In the 1930's, when labor unions generally were flourishing under the New Deal, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) drew enough sympathizers in colleges and universities to form locals on many campuses. Some of these may have been rallying points for reform; but few if any sought recognition as collective bargaining representatives, and none achieved such status. In the past decade, however, the successes of the AFT in metropolitan school systems permitted a reinvigoration of its college department. The concurrent proliferation of new post-secondary public institutions, especially community colleges, offered a fertile field for growth. These two-year institutions were often tied to the public schools, staffed by veterans of public school bargaining, frequently autocratic in administration, and strained by rapid expansion. Thus, they allowed a significant scope of union organization. Many public four-year colleges oriented to teacher training exhibited similar characteristics. Finally, as this Symposium illustrates, recent legislation in major states has given new encouragement to collective bargaining for public employees.
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