In a meeting in the Student Center last week, members of the California Faculty Association at Sonoma State University announced a plan involving a five-day strike on all 23 California State University campuses as part of negotiations. If negotiations are not met, the strike will occur from April 13 to April 19 with downtime during the weekend.
The wage negotiations between the California Faculty Association and the CSU administration center around a 5 percent increase in salary, the CSU is presently offering a 2 percent increase.
During the meeting, members discussed the conditions that have led up to the strike announcement lead by Kevin Wher, a California Faculty Association member and professor of sociology at Sacramento State University.
“The average faculty member system wide earns less than $40,000 a year,” said Wher.“Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions. We didn’t take this job to be rich but we didn’t take this job to be in poverty either.”
The meeting also demonstrated discontent among many California Faculty Association members towards CSU Chancellor Timothy White’s policies. Criticism by members and associates of the California Faculty Association center around his lack of a response on the wage issue.
“The more you watch Tim White, the more irate you become,” said Wher.
Members also discussed reception of the strike among Sonoma State faculty and the reception the strike may have.
“I’m getting positive feedback from faculty,” said Elaine Newman, president of Sonoma State’s chapter of the California Faculty Association member and professor of math. “We want this to be so big that they never ever question our collective bargaining power again.”
“There is no campus in the system that is farther along about thinking this through then this campus” said Andrew Merrifield, a member of the organization and professor of political science.
Members also discussed the decision to strike on Wed. April 13, to Tuesday, April 19.
“It’s a whole week, we get a seven day strike with five days,”saud Merrifield.
In an email sent out to students on Feb. 8, Chief Communications Officer for Sonoma State Susan Kashak said if the strike were to occur, Sonoma State will remain open for business and the university will find appropriate coverage for the classes affected by the strike.
As a response to the email that was sent out, student activist and junior at Sonoma State, Sandra Arjona, who was present for the meeting, gave a write up expressing discontent about the events.
“How is it that the CSU has money to hire substitutes that are adequate to teach what each professor has uniquely designed for their Sonoma State students ,” wrote Arjona, “but they can’t find 5 percent that our faculty needs and deserves?”
In a separate statement from the email sent out to students, Kashak reiterated on the response of the university and also gave a link that can direct any further questions students and others may have about the strike.
“Classes will still be scheduled. Some professors may choose not to hold class during the strike days,” the email noted. “We will do our best to provide coverage for those classes the University feels is appropriate. At this point, all campus services should be operational. There could be some vendors or others who choose not to cross a picket line. We’ll have more information about that as we get closer to the proposed strike date.”
The California State University has also reiterated its committment to students’ education regardless of the strike.
“If a strike occurs, campuses intend to remain open. Many classes will be offered, and students should check with their instructors regarding the status of their classes,” said Toni Molle, public affairs director of the CSU. “The strike should not interfere with students being able to complete their semester and quarter courses and graduate on time.”
Students and others who have questions about the strike can reach Sonoma State at firstname.lastname@example.org.