Members of the California Faculty Association held a conference call on Wednesday about a possible strike that may take place on all 23 California State University campuses.
The reason for the possible strike is a lack of salary increase for CSU faculty members that meets the demands of the union.
Currently the CSU’s have proposed to increase salaries by 2 percent, but the CFA is demanding an additional 3 percent increase, bringing the total to 5 percent.
“The CSU management is spending more and more on itself and trying to find ways to spend less and less on the people who actually do the work of the university – the people who actually do the teaching,” said Kevin Wehr, chairman of the CFA bargaining team.
Jennifer Eagan, president of CFA said because of low salaries many CSU faculty members are becoming administrators to make more money. She said that over a ten year span, CSUs have seen a 20 percent increase in administrator jobs. Eagan added that last year more than half of the faculty teaching in the CSU earned less than $40,000 per year.
“When faculty members are low-paid and have low morale, that has an impact on students,” Eagan said.
Last fall, faculty came to a three-year agreement with the CSU that would improve teaching workload so that faculty members would have more time per student, said Wehr. An increase in compensation was only covered for the first year of the agreement. For the remaining two years, the CSU insisted on a 2 percent raise, but the CFA rejected the offer.
“More and more of our teaching jobs in the CSU are being treated like jobs in fast-food, hiring teachers for classes just before the school term starts, into temporary appointments that are much lower pay,” Eagan said.
Negotiations are now in the mediation stage where both parties need to reach an agreement. If an agreement can’t be reached, then the process will move to the fact-finding stage. Wehr said if negotiations do not proceed during the fact-finding stage then the fact-finding report will be made public.
The CSU will then have the opportunity to make one last and final offer. During this time, faculty can take concerted activities, including going on strike, he said.
“By standing up for ourselves, and standing up for what’s fair for faculty, we’re helping demonstrate to students how they can stand up for themselves and how they should stand up for themselves and what is fair and just,” Wehr said.
If CSU faculty does go on strike this would not be the first time. The last strike was in 2011 and took place on two CSU campuses lasting one day before an offer was reached.
Wehr expects campuses to shut down if an agreement is not met, and hopes students and faculty can unite to improve CSU campuses.
“We hope that students will be with us and will join us in solidarity on the picket line,” Wehr said. “We’re doing this for ourselves and our families. We’re doing this for our students, we’re doing this for our communities and for public higher education in California.”
The strike vote will take place from Oct. 19 to 24 with votes being cast online by union members.