‘Raises, Rights, Respect’

California State University Employees
Shaun Ho / The Collegian

“Higher Education’s 3 “R’s”: Raises, Rights, Respect,” read the black shirts of Shirley Staton and Ayesha Khan, employees under the California State University Employees Union.

By wearing the shirts, they were participating in an effort by the California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) called “Black Tuesday,” when all in the union were encouraged to wear black to show their discontent over the impasse involving the recently proposed fee increase that was lower than hoped.

Right now the CSUEU bargaining team and the California State University system are at a stand still in negotiations until a mediator can come in.

“This is our chance to send a message that we are tired of being understaffed and working for a system that doesn’t appreciate our experience, talents or creativity,” Nancy Kobata, president of Fresno Chapter 309 of the CSUEU wrote in an e-mail about the purpose of the day.

The proposed increase is 2.7 percent for the CSUEU employees, almost a whole percent lower than their request of 3.688 percent and far below the raises that the executives, managers and faculty are receiving.

According to CSUEU, executives will get an 11.8 percent raise, managers 6.75 percent and faculty a 6.2 percent raise.

For the CSUEU employees, 2.7 percent affects those people who are counting on these raises to pay for the cost of living.

CSUEU employee Mary Witte has worked in Student Financial Services for four years. According to Witte, she only got a two percent raise after two years of work. “I got 1 percent on my anniversary date,” she said, expressing that the increases aren’t going up quickly enough to balance out the inflation of the cost of living. “Look at gasoline alone, look at groceries.”

Witte sited budget as the reason she had been hearing behind the lower than expected raise, but said that she doesn’t understand where the money is coming for the presidents.

“A lot of raises are more than we make in a year,” Witte said.

Witte wrote an email asking that herself and other CSUEU employees not be taken for granted. Among the recipients of her letter were Chancellor Charles B. Reed, the governors office and the Board of Trustees.

Shirley Stanton and Ayesha Khan wore T-shirts stating their cause.
Shaun Ho / The Collegian

“I urge you to treat us with the dignity and respect that you tell us and the media we deserve and share your money with the little people who are the nuts and bolts of the organization,” said Witte.

Shirley Staton, who works in Accounting Services, said that there are approximately 16,000 to 17,000 employees in all CSU campuses across the state.

“CSUEU has a lot more employees than the other [groups, i.e. faculty],” Staton said.

Staton acknowledges that the number of people in the CSUEU would make a much smaller raise felt in the budget. But she disagrees with what she says she and others are being led to believe.

Staton said that it is being inferred that the “bargaining team is being unreasonable,” something she doesn’t agree with.

To Staton, the addressing of the issue so far has been “a two-edged sword –– all talk, no action.”

President John D. Welty addressed the CSUEU issues directly in his weekly reflections statement.

“Right now the CSUEU bargaining team and the CSU system are at a stand still in negotiations until a mediator can come in,” Welty said, continuing that salaries have been low in many areas and that it is in the process of being changed. “Last year the Board of Trustees committed to implementing a five year plan to improve compensation for all CSU employees in order to improve competitiveness to attract employees. The Board received information that salary lags existed for employees to varying degrees.”

Welty mentioned the lags existing and his hopes for negotiating with police, faculty and executives as well as the CSUEU.

“It is my hope that the CSU will be able to reach agreement with the help of a mediator on salary increases for CSUEU employees in the near future,” Welty said. “ Clearly our staff deserves an increase which will begin to address any salary lags which exist. The Board will also seek to formalize a policy this week on salaries.”

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