In a conference call Monday with multiple news organizations, California Faculty Association President John Travis said he was â€œcautiously optimisticâ€? about a resolution between the CFA and CSU System that would not involve faculty strikes.
The CFA announced Sunday that it would accept a fact-finding report created by a neutral third party.
Edward Purcell, director of representation for the CFA, said, â€œIn general, we were pleased with the report. We do think it represents the basis for a settlement and weâ€™re looking forward to the next two weeks to see if we can actually wrap it up, based on the fact finderâ€™s recommendations.â€?
In a statement from the CSU, Chair of the CSU Board of Trustees Roberta Achtenberg said, â€œWe have indicated both to the fact finder and to the faculty union that we are willing to use the report as a basis for an overall settlement agreement.â€?
Travis said he attended a collective bargaining meeting on March 25, at which point CSU Chancellor Charles Reed agreed to use the fact-finding document to discuss a settlement.
Following this agreement, the contract between the CSU and faculty was extended until April 6, during which time the two organizations will try to come to an agreement regarding items such as faculty pay, faculty parking fees and early retirement programs.
â€œIâ€™m happy to use the framework,â€? Travis said. â€œWhat remains is to see if the administration and chancellor will live up to the promises theyâ€™ve made to follow the guidance provided by the fact finder.â€?
Purcell said in California, public employees have the right to strike under Supreme Court precedence. With the bargaining law that the CFA operates under (Higher Education Employee Employer Relations Act), fact-finding is often used to resolve disputes.
Fact-finding is a process in which both parties present their arguments and evidence to a neutral party who provides recommendations for an appropriate basis for settlement.
Sylvia Skratek of Seattle was recommended by the chancellorâ€™s labor relations consultant.
Purcell said, â€œThe union decided to use Ms. Skratek both because of the fact that she has a very high reputation in the field, but also because we were hopeful that somebody who was trusted and recommended by management would actually have a stronger voice when recommending a resolution of this dispute.â€?
Among the suggestions put forth by Skratek was that the CSU give higher budget priority to the hiring of additional tenure-track faculty. Purcell also said this has been a goal of the CFA, the administration and the Academic Senate.
Dr. Shane Moreman, an assistant professor in the communication department is a University-Wide Senator for Fresno Stateâ€™s Academic Senate.
Moreman said, â€œI would like to see more tenure-track faculty hired. I think that whenever we have the opportunity to hire new faculty, we have the opportunity to bring in fresh blood and new ideas and new energy.â€?
Of the fact-finding report, Moreman said, â€œIn general I was really pleased with fact-finding report. I read it as way for me to find out the facts of the situation too. There have been a lot myths or fictions around. It helps me to get a big picture of whatâ€™s been going on.â€?
Dr. Diane Blair, an associate professor of the communication department, said, â€œThe recommendations, especially in terms of salary, really confirm what the faculty have been saying all along.â€?
Blair said she is personally hopeful that a resolution can be reached. â€œI think that itâ€™s a good sign that both sides were willing to come back and continue negotiating. This 10-day extension is a good sign.â€?
Dr. Paul Oliaro, dean of Student Affairs, said the move back to the negotiation table is â€œa reflection of the commitment of the faculty and CSU administration to avoid a situation that could adversely affect students.â€?
Representatives for the CFA and the CSU agree that going back into negotiations is a positive step toward reaching a conclusion to the faculty contracts dispute. However, CFA President John Travis said, â€œIf we havenâ€™t reached a settlement by April 6, we will go out on strike.â€?