The faculty of the nation’s largest public university system has proposed a strike over salary disputes. The California Faculty Association, a union of 23,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches, is asking for a 5 percent salary increase, as well as an extra 2.65 percent for faculty on the bottom end of the pay scale. However, CSU management is proposing a 2 percent hike is wages and they do not wish to go above this number.
“We have not received regular raises like other faculty at the JC’s and UC’s have,” said Carmen Works, assistant professor of chemistry and a representative for CFA “The CSU faculty went without salary step increases, or SSI, for about seven years, and we also went most of those years without general salary increases.”
According to Toni Molle, director of public affairs for the CSU office of the chancellor, the university system is budgeted for 65.5 million dollars this year.
“The five percent that CFA is asking for will amount to a total of $101.7 million,” said Molle, “The CSU must maintain a balanced approach when it comes to compensation and funding the remainder of the operating budget of the university.”
The 2 percent salary increase that the CSU Board of Trustees is willing to give would amount to $32.8 million out of the $65.5 million allotted to the CSU system.
The last documented raise for the CSU faculty members was in August 2013, which was documented by the Long Beach Press Telegram as a ‘modest pay raise’. The last salary increase for the UC system, however, occurred in March 2014, which called for a 3 percent increase for both UC faculty and other non-unionized academic staff. The lack of routine pay raises has caused the CSU faculty members to fall behind the cost of living and put faculty behind the pace of inflation, said Works. The basic argument from the CFA is to have employees at CSU campuses earning a solid enough wage to support themselves and their family.
“In order for faculty to catch up with
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inflation, and other faculty in similar institutions,” said Works, “5 percent increase in GSI and a 2.65 percent SSI (for faculty that are eligible) will start us off in the correct direction.
The first and last time faculty of CSU campuses went on strike was in November 2011, when CSU East Bay and CSU Dominguez Hills faculty members marched on their respective campuses. That was a result of the continuous debates with the CSU Board of Trustees over pay raises. Roughly 300 to 400 people went on strike, including professors.
The students of the professors on strike were told classes were canceled, and some received their assignments earlier in the week. The biggest concern for both the CFA and the Chancellor’s office is the students enrolled in the CSU system.
“Once we know what the CFA strike plans are, the Chancellor’s Office and campuses will work together to communicate with the students what the strike action will look like and how it will impact students, classes, and the campus community.” said Molle.
Katie Crabtree, a junior communication studies major, shared how she views the disputes.
“If [faculty] weren’t very happy, they probably would not put much effort into their work, which would result in a less-than-desirable environment for me.” said Crabtree.
The California Faculty Association has scheduled their Strike Authorization Vote for Oct. 19-28. As a union, the CFA stands for quality education for CSU students, fairness for those who earn a living as teachers, and policies that ensure access to higher education.
Since the CFA is the only collective bargaining representative for the California State University faculty, the association is hoping that the possibility of a rolling strike will trigger more flexible negotiations with the CSU Board of Trustees.
“Currently, a strike is very possible, but we (the faculty), are very hopeful that the CSU will do the right thing and come back to the table and talk to and help us.” said Works.
The next mediation meeting between the CFA and the Office of the Chancellor will take place Oct. 8 in Sacramento.
For more information on the issues and to stay on top of the most recent news on this story, visit calfac.org.