CFA Rallies Against the CSU

By Heather Posey

Students, faculty, and staff members from across California
gathered in Long Beach Wednesday for the California Faculty
Association’s Stop the Rip-Off March and Rally.

More than 3,500 people showed up to the CFA protest, nicknamed
“CSI: CSU,” to confront Charles Reed and the CSU Board of
Trustees.

According to a CFA news release, demonstrators coined the slogan
“CSI: CSU” after the popular television crime show, to “compare the
once valued state university system to a crime scene
investigation.” CFA leaders even went as far as to place mock crime
scene tape around the rally area and the Office of the Chancellor
where the CSU Board of Trustees were meeting.

“It’s not just about the money, it’s about the respect and
quality of education for students,” said Rozalyn Gribben, a staff
member who works at Cal Poly’s Copy n’ Mail.

While many believe that faculty earnings were the sole purpose
of this event, there were actually three major issues that the CFA
has been struggling with.

The first issue brought to the CSU was a demand to drop the
executive perks given to administrators. Most CSU executives
receive six-figure salaries and executives that leave office and
take other high-paying jobs keep their salaries after their
departure.

Secondly, the CFA wants to reduce student fees, which have gone
up 76 percent since 2002 and there are plans to increase them 10
percent each year until the end of the decade. According to a CFA
handout entitled “23 reasons why faculty are mad,” a student would
have to work 373 hours (more than 6X as long as in 1965) at minimum
wage to pay current student fees of $2,520.

Finally, the CFA demands to negotiate fair salary contracts with
faculty and all CSU employees. CFA and CSU wage negotiations have
gone on since June 2005 but both sides have yet to come to an
agreement.

Many in the CFA feel that it is unfair that top CSU executives
are taking one-time pay hikes of up to $60,000 while CSU student
enrollment is dropping due to their inability to pay tuition and
the faculty are barely able to make ends meet.

“I can’t even put my own kids through college on a full time
professor’s salary,” said anthropology professor Dorothy Wills. She
has been teaching at Cal Poly for the past 18 years.

Although only half of Cal Poly faculty and staff members are a
part of the CFA union, most professors are forced to work part time
at other colleges and universities in order to make ends meet.

“They’re getting paid to screw us over,” said political science
professor Jose Vadi.

The actual turnout of protest participants and supporters of the
march and rally tripled the 1,000 expected by CFA officials and the
1,500 that Long Beach police officers originally prepared for.

“I didn’t think this many people would come,” said Mike Pierce,
a fourth-year urban planning student who attended the event.

Local police accommodated the demonstrators by partially
blocking off streets during the march and directing traffic during
the rally.

“I was surprised at how supportive the police were,” said
fourth-year urban planning student Debbie Roberts.

The outcome seemed to surprise everyone, especially since there
seemed to be little encouragement for students to attend the
rally.

“Not many teachers asked their students to come [to the rally],”
said fourth-year international business student Maria Elena
Vasquez. “You would think that they would want more people to
come.”

At the event many CFA officials and student speakers spoke out
against not only the CSU, but also Governor Schwarzenegger and CSU
Chancellor Charles B. Reed in particular.

Chants such as “Reed, Reed, Stop the Greed! Give the people what
they Need!” were called during the march as well as similar
defaming songs thought up for the event against Reed and the
CSU.

Mock pictures of Reed holding a bag of money and a blow up of
one of his pay checks which indicates he makes $30,000 a month were
displayed in the march and put up against the window outside of the
boardroom where the trustees were meeting.

In October, the CFA unanimously approved a general membership
vote authorizing the CFA Board of Directors to initiate job actions
at the conclusion of the statutory bargaining process of a contract
has not been successfully negotiated.

CFA officials say that job actions may include rolling walkouts,
canceling classes, and/or a system wide strike. However, such
actions would not take place until Spring 2007.

In response to the CFA’s actions, the CSU issued a statement
regarding faculty negotiations stating that they “want to come to
an agreement with the union so its hard working faculty can enjoy
the salary increase they so much deserve.”

The California Faculty Association has 23,00 instructional
faculty, librarians, counselors and coaches in the CSU.

Heather Posey can be reached by e-mail at news@thepolypost.com
or by phone at (909) 869-3747.

CFA Rallies Against the CSU

CFA Rallies Against the CSU

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