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College faculty get paid more, on average, when their union negotiates on their behalf, according to NEA Higher Ed Faculty research. There is real value—like calculable dollars—in fighting for strong unions.

Full-time faculty salaries in 2016–2017 remained fairly constant in 2017, compared to the previous year, across all ranks. The average full-time faculty member’s purchasing power increased by $245 (0.3 percent) from $83,908 in 2015–2016 to $84,153 in 2016–2017.

Community college faculty in collective bargaining institutions had the largest differential, earning nearly $18,000 more than their nonbargaining colleagues ($76,177 and $58,314, respectively, a 31 percent difference). Faculty at comprehensive institutions with contracts earned about $13,000 more than those without contracts, or a 20 percent difference.

On average, union members’ wages are 27% higher than their nonunion counterparts. More than 79% of union members have jobs that provide health insurance benefit, but less than half of nonunion workers do. Unionized workers are 60% more likely to have employer-provided pensions.


Average salaries for faculty on 9/10-month contracts in public institutions, by collective bargaining status and sector: 2016–2017

States containing institutions with collective bargaining agreements States not containing institutions with collective bargaining agreements
Institutions with faculty contracts Institutions without faculty contracts
Average $86,710 $79,558 $73,963
Two-year institutions 76,177 58,314 54,939
Liberal arts institutions 74, 134 75,205 61,884
Comprehensive institutions 78,430 65,425 64,995
Research/Doctoral- granting institutions 95,884 87,870 82,544

Note: Based on 100 percent of NEA’s public institution faculty salary universe (1,568 intuitions) reporting complete data. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Salary Survey Provisional Data. Data extracted January 10, 2018.