CSU faculty closer to a strike over wages

By Gregory Jouvenat

The California Faculty Association announced that it has been granted strike sanctions by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. The press conference and announcement was held at Cal State Los Angeles on Jan. 19.

According to Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the LA County Federation of Labor, the decision to go on strike is not one to be taken lightly. The strike sanctions that are made to support that decision are not given out lightly either. If the CFA was to go on strike, members of other unions would not cross the picket line and would lend support, said Hicks.

“We have a process where all of our 300 unions come together and hear out the issues with regards to the faculty that are considering this particular action and to make a determination on whether to support that action or not,” said Hicks. “I am here to announce that we are standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with faculty across the state, particularly here in Los Angeles.”

The CFA has been in negotiations with the California State University Office of the Chancellor for higher salary wages since last June. The Office of the Chancellor offered a 2 percent raise for all CSU employees, while the CFA asked for a 5 percent raise.

Both parties declared an impasse last August. They entered a fact-finding stage, where each side presented its case to a neutral third party. Those meetings have come to an end and the CFA and the CSU bargaining teams are waiting for the panel of fact-finders to draft a report on how to proceed.

There will be a ten-day blackout period after the draft is released. The chancellor will make his last offer to the members of the CFA, and they will be legally allowed to strike if they are still at a disagreement.

“We’re hoping that they will reconsider and meet our demands,” said Dorothy Wills, professor at Cal Poly Pomona’s Department of Geography and Anthropology and CPP’s CFA chapter president. “Until that happens, we have to continue trying to put pressure on [the chancellor] and reveal our issues to the public in such a way to get their support. That includes the governor too. We had a lot of success getting legislators to agree with us ” that the need is there for faculty to be adequately compensated.”

In addition to the strike sanction announcement, the CFA held a rally while CSU Chancellor Timothy White spoke at the Cal State Los Angeles campus.

According to Wills, CSU faculty members are not doing as well as UC faculty members, K-12 teachers, community college professors and faculty at other institutions across the nation. She believes that the 5 percent raise is modest and reasonable.

The CFA voted for a strike authorization in November 2015. Members of the CFA voted 94.4 percent in support of a strike if their requests for higher salary wages are not met.

“We’ve shown that faculty salaries have been uniquely stagnant compared to other educators and public employees,” said Jennifer Eagan, president of the CFA. “We have shown how this affects faculties’ family. We have told this story through the numbers and through the lived experience of faculty members that want to pay bills and send their own kids to college. It seems that everyone understands where we are coming from except for the leadership of the CSU, Chancellor White and the Board of Trustees. They have indicated time and again that faculty, and by extension, the students are not their top priority.”

The CFA is a union that represents over 25,000 members across the 23 CSU campuses. In 1983 the CFA won an election to be the sole bargaining agent for its members. They have a team of faculty members throughout the state working together to develop proposals for salary negotiations.

Faculty picketing

Gregory Jouvenat / The Poly Post

Faculty picketing

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