Feb 24, 2020

Report supports faculty strike

Students, administrators and faculty all have opinions on whether they are for or against a faculty strike, but a recently published non-binding fact-finder’s report sided with the faculty.

“[The fact-finder] basically sided, unequivocally, with the faculty about what we deserve in terms of a fair contract,” said Diane Blair, president of the Fresno State chapter of the California Faculty Association (CFA).

The report was done by an independent, neutral, third-party fact-finder who weighed in on the proposed 5 percent general salary increase and 2.65 percent service salary increase for California State University faculty, said Blair.

A panel member for the CSU and a panel member for the CFA both presented evidence to the impartial chair who then made recommendations.

“The recession severely impacted the faculty at CSU, and while some progress has been made to restore the loss of competitive salaries with negotiated targeted increases, the faculty are still suffering from structural salary issues as well as the lack of substantial general salary increases in percentages in order to address the lack of progress in salary adjustments for all faculty,” the report stated.

“Having that report come out, and having her more or less completely side with the faculty is very validating,” Blair said. “It demonstrates that what faculty have been saying all along is in fact, the case.”

Blair said faculty members have been sacrificing for many years, and it was time for the CSU schools to start reinvesting in their faculty.

“You can’t say that you’re putting students first if you’re always putting faculty last,” Blair said.  “Students deserve well-paid faculty who care about them.”

Blair said the fact-finder’s report made the recommendation to further negotiate with faculty, but that CSU Chancellor, Timothy P. White did not appear to be making any moves to go back to the bargaining table.

“The ball is really in the chancellor’s court,” Blair said. “He is the one who has the power of the purse, and he really is the one who can make the strike go away by actually abiding by the recommendations in the fact-finding report.”

If the chancellor does nothing, the only option that faculty has left is to withhold its labor, Blair said.

“Every passing day diminishes the possibility of averting and avoiding the strike,” Blair said.  “So we’re still gearing up and getting our faculty ready to go on strike.”

The report acknowledged that CSU’s do not have the available funds to pay for the salary increases, and funds would have to be reallocated from other unspecified programs or from the delay of unspecified projects, which White said would harm students and faculty.

“The best solution moving forward is to continue with our multiyear plan of increasing faculty and staff salaries while also investing in the other priorities that support student success and degree completion,” White said in a news release. “The only way to achieve our shared goals for students, faculty and staff is greater financial investment by the state. I hope to see lawmakers continue to Stand with CSU, as they did this past year.”

“Investing in our talented faculty and staff is central to the continued success of our students. This is why we have invested about $30 million in new permanent state funds for faculty and staff salaries and benefits since July 2013. About 71 percent of our campus’s state funds are dedicated to covering salary and benefits costs. We will invest more in this area, as well as other high priority areas, as additional state funds become available,” said Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro in a statement.

Blair encouraged students to talk with faculty about the strike and the students’ rights during a strike.

“Faculty who are in fact participating in the strike are—and should be—communicating with their students that they won’t be in class and making whatever arrangements need to be made for those five days when we will be out on the picket lines instead of in the classrooms.”

Blair said students have every right to support the faculty and even participate in the picket lines if they choose to do so.

If there are faculty who choose to have classes during the strike days, Blair said that it would be a little more difficult to get onto campus because of the picketing.

“It is going to be a legal strike,” Blair said. “It’s a peaceful picket. We’re not going to be preventing anybody from being able to come onto campus.”

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