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A delegation of faculty members and students deliver a letter to Fresno State President Joseph Castro asking him to "be bold" in talks with the CSU administration for a new collective bargaining agreement. Darlene Wendels/ The Collegian

Faculty union asks Castro to “be bold” in contract talks

A delegation of faculty members and students deliver a letter to Fresno State President Joseph Castro asking him to "be bold" in talks with the CSU administration for a new collective bargaining agreement. Darlene Wendels/ The Collegian

A delegation of faculty members and students deliver a letter to Fresno State President Joseph Castro asking him to “be bold” in talks with the CSU administration for a new collective bargaining agreement. Darlene Wendels/ The Collegian

Fresno State faculty packed into the lobby of President Joseph Castro’s office Wednesday calling on him to “be bold” and put pressure on California State University administrators to adopt a new collective-bargaining agreement.

The faculty, represented by the California Faculty Association, are pushing for an agreement that would guarantee increases in salaries and harsher limits on workload requirements. The contract which they are currently operating under expired in June.

“Both you and the [CSU] chancellor have said you understand that faculty have been dealing with unhealthy and an unfair salary situation under increased workload,” said Dr. Diane Blair, the CFA’s Fresno chapter president and a communications professor, addressing Castro on behalf of the group.

“The issue is the degree to which the CSU is willing to step up and put money on the table that will have a real impact and put us back on the right track in terms of salary for faculty.”

Prior to marching to Castro’s office, the CFA held a rally in front of the Kennel Bookstore. About 60 faculty members gathered to hear speeches by instructors.

“I’m angry that while administrative salaries are through the roof, or at least reach the fourth floor of the library, faculty salaries are in the basement,” said Dr. Benjamin Boone, a Fresno State music professor. “If we’re (faculty) in the basement, staff salaries are in the subterranean parking garage.”

Boone, a recipient of the Provost’s Award and runner-up for the President’s Award at Fresno State, was critical of the current pay scale for professors at the university.

“I have the distinction of being the first in a tidal wave of profoundly underpaid, newly promoted full professors,” he said. “This didn’t happen because I’m a slouch. This didn’t happen because I am lazy.”

The CFA also garnered around 250 signatures on a letter to the president asking him to use his power to either put pressure on the CSU administration to accept the union’s proposal, or bridge the gap between the CSU’s and CFA’s proposals with funds from Fresno State’s budget.

“This was another opportunity to hear their voices and what’s important to them, and it’s been consistent about fair pay,” Castro said. “I understand that and support that.”

Castro also pointed to the $1.2 million set aside for a salary-equity program at Fresno State, saying that it’s “the largest single investment in our budget this year.” That money though cannot be accessed until a new agreement is finalized.

This money could be used to boost the pay of some professors hired during the recession at lower pay than professors currently being hired.

He also said that he is “cautiously optimistic” a new agreement will be reached soon and that it will start a “new chapter” at Fresno State.

“I believe that each side is committed to resolving this agreement, and it’s my understanding that there is a general framework,” Castro said. “That is a really good sign.”

Blair shared his sentiment saying, “We are cautiously hopeful a tentative agreement can be reached.”

But she added, “Of course, we’ve been cautiously hopeful each time the bargaining teams have met these past 10 months.”