United University Professions

Pioneering in Higher Education Unionism

By Nuala McGann Drescher, William E. Scheuerman, and Ivan D. Steen

Subjects: American Labor History, Sociology Of Work, New York/regional, Education, Leadership Studies
Hardcover : 9781438474670, 324 pages, June 2019
Paperback : 9781438474687, 324 pages, June 2019

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Table of contents


1. The State University of New York Prior to Unionization

2. The Right to Bargain Collectively, 1967–73

3. The Emergence of United University Professions, 1973–81

4. Organizational Structure, Internal Disagreement, Innovation, and Growth, 1981–87

5. Expanding the Role of UUP, 1987–93

6. UUP Matures: Part I, 1993–2001

7. UUP Matures: Part II, 2001–2007

8. New Challenges and Future Prospects

Note on Sources

Tells the story of the nation's largest higher education union from its earliest years to its role today as a powerful organization promoting the interests of faculty, staff, and the entire SUNY community.


Public education, from pre-K through higher education, and labor unions, particularly those representing public sector workers, are today under attack from those who question the very need to have such basic institutions. United University Professions is a history of United University Professions (UUP), which grew from humble beginnings to become the nation's largest higher education union, representing some 35,000 academic and professional staff within the State University of New York (SUNY) system. Nuala McGann Drescher, William E. Scheuerman, and Ivan D. Steen chronicle how UUP built upon its early accomplishments at the bargaining table and in the political arena to become a national leader in the struggle to preserve academic freedom and the institution of tenure, the bedrock of academic freedom. More broadly, they argue, UUP in microcosm confirms the importance of unionization not only for the members it represents, but to core American values and American democracy itself.

Nuala McGann Drescher is Distinguished Service Professor Emerita at the State University of New York College at Buffalo and a retired UUP president. She is the author of Engineer for the Public Good: A History of the Buffalo District US Army Corps of Engineers. William E. Scheuerman is Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York at Oswego, retired President of the National Labor College, and retired UUP president. He is the author (with Sidney Plotkin) of Private Interest, Public Spending: Balanced-Budget Conservatism and the Fiscal Crisis. Ivan D. Steen is Associate Professor of History Emeritus at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He is the author of Urbanizing America: The Development of Cities in the United States from the First European Settlements to 1920.


"…a seminal book in labor history … The coauthors' insights are especially credible given their respective roles as long-standing professors in the State University of New York system and as prominent union leaders of the UUP. Moreover, historiography provides little treatment of the union movement in higher education. The coauthors had exhaustive primary sources at their disposal, which they fully utilized to craft an extremely comprehensive history of the formation, growth, and maturation of UUP." — New York History

"…a well-written, detailed account of how the union developed and its impact as an advocate for SUNY, its professional staff, and its students. It will be useful to those interested in unionization and the history of higher education." — CHOICE

"This is a major contribution to our understanding of unions." — Stan Luger, author of Corporate Power, American Democracy, and the Automobile Industry

"This book should interest, and be required reading for, anyone concerned about public higher education in the United States." — Brian Waddell, coauthor of What American Government Does