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Abstract

Educational services, particularly higher education, has slowly and methodically become one of the most heavily unionized segments, with much greater representation than traditional labor segments. Despite these changes, the increase in academic collective bargaining has not been well documented. Consequently, the purpose of the current paper is to examine recent trends in academic collective bargaining and to compare these trends with the current unionization and collective bargaining situation in other major industries in the United States. We begin with a comparative analysis of unionization in the United States by industry. The summary data we present indicate that the educational services industry is the third largest industry category in the United States and is the most highly unionized industry in the nation. Next, we tighten our focus to examine recent patterns and trends in academic collective bargaining. The data suggest that colleges and universities are a major sector in the overall employment landscape of the United States with academic collective bargaining representing one of the most important growth segments within the U.S. labor movement. In short, higher education unionization is expanding at a faster rate than overall union growth with the expansion of graduate student employee unionization as an area of special interest.

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