Courtesy of CSU
Courtesy of CSU

In October of this year, the California Faculty Association (CFA) held an authorization vote to hold a 10-day strike in January 2016, if they do not come to an agreement with the Cal State University system. The CFA represents over 26,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, guidance counselors and other office and custodial staff at all 23 of the California State University (CSU) campuses.

Every piece of the union’s contract has been settled except the dispute over the union’s salary increase. While management is willing to offer the union a 2 percent general salary increase, the union refuses to settle for less than a 5 percent general increase along with a 2.65 percent  increase for approximately 12,000 union members on the lower end of the pay spectrum, such as the service staff.

This is the fourth strike authorization that the union has given in the past eight years. The union authorized strikes in 2007, 2011 and 2012, and a one-day strike in 2011 at CSU East Bay and CSU Dominguez Hills.

“I think that professors are not being paid enough. My professors in the UC system face the exact same issues. There’s money for everything else but not enough to increase professor’s pays,” said Erika Azuma Stephens, a freshman neuroscience major from UCR.

Cal State Chancellor and former UCR Chancellor Timothy White stated, “I acknowledge and value the work our faculty does every day,” but “we have to live within our means … We’re still (receiving) about $200 million less in resources than we were in 2008.”

The CFA has been negotiating with CSU management since May. Faculty members have not received raises since 2008 despite student tuition increases and an increase of state funding.

“This fight is about the bread and butter issue of salary, but that’s not all … the faculty envisions a CSU that educates students without driving them into debt, honors the faculty as the valuable professionals that we are, and elevates California by facilitating the next generation of creative, thoughtful, and brilliant citizens who will sustain the state for generations to come. That’s our vision, and we’re willing to fight for it,” voiced CFA President Jennifer Eagan at a press conference held at San Jose State University.

The CFA and the CSU management are in the final stages of negotiations and fact-finding. During this stage, a non-involved third party will sit down with both sides and discuss the issue. The third party then writes a report that recommends how they believe the situation should be solved. The two sides are then given 10 days to look over the report and discuss a settlement. The CSU chancellor will then propose a final offer to the union and if rejected, the union will be legally allowed to strike. The earliest date that the CFA could potentially strike is January 1, 2016.

While the union cannot officially strike yet, they are currently planning a day of action. On Nov. 17, the union plans to go to Long Beach and hold a rally in front of White’s office during the next CSU Board of Trustee’s public meeting.

Contributions made by Aaron Grech