Voting begins on tentative faculty salary agreement

The polls opened last Friday for voting on the recent California State University salary agreement that ended a proposed faculty strike earlier this month. The voting period began at 6 a.m. last Friday and will remain open until noon this Friday. Those in the California Faculty Association will be able to vote on whether the California State University Board of Trustees will finalize the agreement through email.

For years, the CFA have fought for better salaries. The CSU Board of Trustees eventually complied and set up a plan for a 2 percent increase in the salaries as well as distribution for all programs within the CSU, but the CFA felt that increase was still too low. As a result, the association created a campaign to get the board to listen.

A plan to strike in April was devised but postponed after the board finally stepped in to provide a new plan. This time, the new agreement called for a 10.5 percent increase that would be divided into portions over the next three years, with enough left over for distribution to the programs. This satisfied both the faculty association and the board, although now it requires votes to be implemented.

“This tentative agreement is really good for faculty looking forward,” said Elaine Newman, president of Sonoma State’s California Faculty Association chapter.  “It isn’t perfect — it doesn’t make up for the lack of significant raises in the last 10-15 years, but it is a start. Additionally, our bargaining power has increased for the future.”

The rest of the association is generally optimistic about the agreement.

“I feel the agreement is an acceptable compromise,” said Sam Brannen, secretary of Sonoma State’s CFA chapter and math professor.  “The fact that our 5 percent raise for this year to begin on June 30 is not retroactive means that we really got 0 percent this year. However, combined with the 2 percent raise for next year that begins on July 1, we are essentially getting a 7 percent raise next year. ”

The agreement calls for the re-allocation of funds in the CSU budget.

“Most importantly, it’s not coming from the pockets of students, but from the allocation of state funds,” said Thomas Targett, member of Sonoma State’s CFA and physics and astronomy professor.There has been nearly a decade of salary stagnation, which caused an effect 10 percent loss in spending power for the campuses.

“This settlement was necessary for both the quality of student education, from faculty who can afford to live in the area, and appropriate compensation for highly skilled workers in the important field of higher education,” said Targett.

Although voting has just started, faculty have expressed positivity. The CFA said they were glad they didn’t have to strike.

“None of the faculty wanted to strike, but voted in favor of doing so to obtain a fair settlement.
Now that’s finally on the table I do not see any reason to oppose it,” said Targett.

According the the CFA, If the tentative agreement doesn’t get approved during this week’s voting period, plans for the strike continue. The CFA will create a new plan to get the board to try to fix the issue.

Another general consensus of the faculty is the time length of the CSU setting the agreement, claiming that the CSU took quite a while to take their concerns seriously and to recognize the importance of the salary increase .

“The facts were on our side, but CSU management did not treat our concerns with the respect they deserved until the last minute,” said Newman.

Targett recognizes that possibility for opposition to the agreement and believes those opposed are within their rights.

“Diversity of opinion typically strengthens arguments and improves ideas,” said Targett.

“However, with a settlement that is fair to both faculty and the CSU, and critically of benefit to students in the recruiting and retention of good faculty, I predict the tentative agreement will be rapidly adopted.”