CSU, CFA salary negotiations remain stagnant

Faculty file unfair labor practice charge against Cal State

CSU, CFA salary negotiations remain stagnant

Jasmine Demers, Managing Editor


The battle over a salary agreement continues between the California Faculty Association (CFA) and California State University (CSU) after a meeting in Long Beach ended in yet another deadlock.

On Nov. 17, over 1,000 CSU faculty, staff and students gathered to rally for a 5 percent salary increase during the Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach, CA. The CFA launched its “Fight For Five” campaign after several stagnant negotiations with the CSU administration, who stand firm at a 2 percent general salary increase. The groups have been bargaining over faculty salaries since May 2015 in the second year of the Unit 3 contract.

This rally followed a strike authorization vote that was held by CFA earlier this month, which resulted in a 94.4 percent vote in favor of a strike if negotiations continued to fail. Starting early that morning, protesters marched towards the CSU Chancellor’s Office through downtown Long Beach and then rallied outside the office as Board of Trustees members met inside.

“While the march and rally are expected to be festive, with theater, dancing, chants, and costumes, the issues are deeply serious. We are talking about our families, our students, and the future of this public university system,” said said CFA Bargaining Team Chair Kevin Wehr in a CFA press release. “We want it to remain a public university, the People’s University, making good college degrees accessible and affordable. The people of California need that, our economy badly needs it, and our society needs a solid middle class to assure the strength of our democracy.”

Members of the San Marcos chapter of the CFA were among the many faculty who attended the rally, as well as 28 CSUSM students who attended in support from Students for Quality Education (SQE).

Inside the meeting, Board of Trustees members discussed collective bargaining, educational policies, campus planning, etc. They also heard concerns from several members of the CSU community including members and supporters of the CFA.

CSUSM student Karen Guzmxn was one of the individuals who was able to speak in front of the Board of Trustees that afternoon. Karen advocated for the CFA in honor of students who struggle with tuition prices and other aspects of education.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for [my professors], and it’s ridiculous that they cannot even get a 5% wage increase after years of stagnant pay when they are the ones working directly with us, investing in us and ensuring that we have a chance to succeed.”

Lori Lamb, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, provided an update on the bargaining process between the CFA and CSU and provided meeting attendees with an administrative perspective on the issue.

“When you analyze the different proposals between the CSU and CFA, it becomes understandable from both sides, why we are at this point in the process,” said Lamb.

She goes on to explain that the CSU’s 2 percent proposal would cost an estimated total of $33 million, where the 5 percent proposal by the CFA would cost an estimated total of $102.3 million.

“This is not the full story. As you know, with two of our other bargaining units, the California State University Employees Union (CSUEU)…and the Academic Professionals of California (APC), we have clauses in the contracts that if more than 2% is negotiated with the CFA, these bargaining units get the same amount,” said Lamb.

These “Me-Too” clauses mean that the board would also have to approve a 5 percent increase to other employee groups, which would cost an additional $37.9 million.

“We value our faculty. Faculty are critical to the success of students. Our reality is that we have to live within our means,” said Lamb. “We also believe, and we’ve been presenting data to you in the last several months, that we as a system face significant compensation challenges as a result of the recession that took place in California and across the nation from 2008 to 2013.”

Lamb also explains the the Board of Trustees has created a plan to attempt to rectify these compensation issues, which consists of an 8.34 percent increase over four years.

“We face these challenges for all of our employee groups to varying degrees. These challenges…are not simple and were not created overnight. The challenges we face took multiple years to create and they will take multiple years to address effectively.”

With contract negotiations remaining inconclusive after the meeting, on Nov. 19 the CFA filed an unfair labor practice charge against the CSU management and Chancellor Timothy P. White alleging that they have been bargaining in bad faith.

“The Chancellor decided what he thought was fair compensation for faculty before the bargaining process even began, and that is not bargaining in good faith,” said Wehr.

Nov. 23 marked the beginning of the fact finding stage of the collective bargaining process, which is the final stage that must be completed before the faculty is legally permitted to take action and strike.

“Ignoring us seems to have been your strategy so far, and it’s not working. We are your faculty. We’re not going away, and we’re not getting any less angry as time passes,” said CFA president Jennifer Eagen. “We urge you to open your eyes, hear the voices outside, and respond to honor your faculty and avert a strike. It’s within your power.”

As the fight between these groups continue, CSU East Bay student Pablo Garnica had something to say to both the CSU and CFA.

“To all groups even considering letting this issue go as far as a strike…Please do not be selfish beyond the point of recognizing that students are suffering…and will suffer even more if the strike happens and classes are canceled and programs and maintenance are defunded as a result of a raise,” said Garnica. “This is not what education should look like. Stand by the students, CFA. Stand by the students, Board of Trustees. Keep classes going, and keep campuses open.”

 

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California