CSU system may face CFA strikes

The CSU system may be facing the largest strike of higher education teachers in U.S. history.

Last Tuesday night, the California Faculty Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to authorize a union members vote on whether or not to proceed with job action — which may include rolling strikes.

“We’ve said all along that we do not want to strike,” CFA president John Travis said in a teleconference call. Travis, who also spoke to The Collegian in a phone interview, is a political science professor at Humboldt State University. He said the administration has a different perspective than CFA, and that negotiating is about making proposals and compromising.

“They have not changed their proposal,” Travis said. “That’s not bargaining, that’s not how it’s done.

The last resort of the labor union is to withhold its labor.”

In a groundbreaking vote, CSU faculty members will be taking a strike vote for the first time.

Voting will take place March 5-8 on some campuses and March 12-15 on the remaining campuses. If a majority of the voters (50 percent plus one) are in favor of job action, it will be the largest higher education strike in U.S. history. Results of the voting will be announced March 21.

“We think we have to take this vote now,” Travis said. He added that the date rolling strikes would begin have yet to be determined, but they could start sometime between late March and early April.

CFA officials said the first step in job action will be rolling strikes, where faculty members will strike for a couple of days on various campuses.

“The reason we chose the rolling strike concept was because it wouldn’t affect any particular students dramatically,” Travis said.

Alice Sunshine, CFA communications director, added, “We hope we will be able to make a strong point to the CSU administration. We hope to minimize the negative impact on students.”

Travis said depending on how effective rolling strikes are, if the strikes do not generate changes, CFA may decide to do another series of rolling strikes, as the group wants this strike “to have the impact it needs to have on the administration and the chancellors.”

Negotiations between CFA and the CSU system have been going on for more than 22 months, and talks are still at an impasse. A state-appointed third party is now overseeing a fact-finding process, where a list of recommendations will develop on how to break the impasse, and the CFA and CSU administration will look over the list. But if both sides do not accept the recommendations, the contract expires officially, allowing the faculty to exercise job actions.

Travis wants to encourage everyone to participate in the possible strike.

“We’re going to appeal to all faculty to strike,” Travis said. However, he added, “It can be divisive — there will be faculty who disagree and won’t go out.”

He said technically a strike will affect all faculty, as it would include coaches and librarians as well.

“From our perspective, we think students have a right to quality education,” Travis said.

“Students sometimes take their education for granted. It’s no secret that there are students who don’t want us to strike.”

Travis said CFA is trying to convince students that many CFA members are concerned about the strike and how it will affect them.

“I hope students support us,” Travis said.

Travis said part-time faculty members have replaced many faculty members in the CSU system, and their part-time status can make it difficult to contact them to encourage them to participate in a possible strike.

“We have to send a message of unity and concern to the administration,” Travis said.

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