By Joshua Hernandez, Sept. 14, 2021

The California Faculty Association and the California State University are continuing extended contract negotiations this month due to disagreements over competing general salary proposals.

According to the CSU’s Labor & Employee Relations Communique from Aug. 31, the CFA proposed an increase in faculty’s general salary retroactively by 4% for the 2020-2021 academic year, 4% for 2021-2022, and another 4% for  2022-2023. The CSU countered with no retroactive raise for the 2020-21 year, a 2% increase for the 2021-20 year and an opportunity to renegotiate for the 2022-23 year.

Jonathan Puthoff, vice president of Cal Poly Pomona’s CFA chapter, said the retroactive raises were proposed by CFA to recompensate faculty who did not receive raises during the previous year, as the Coronavirus pandemic prompted both sides to extend the contract for another year.

“It’s not a lot, it’s just a couple of percent,” Puthoff said. “But that couple of percent are necessary to offset inflation.”

The university system’s communique added that the CFA’s proposal would result in $180 million of new salary expenses for this year’s budget — an expense not specifically allocated for. CFA, however, contends that the CSU has the funds.

“We would understand if it was a matter of money,” said Nicholas Von Glahn, president of Cal Poly Pomona’s CFA chapter. “But the money is there, and it’s a concern about priorities.”

Von Glahn said CFA feels the CSU’s proposal is insufficient given the current rate of inflation and the work that faculty put into optimizing their classes for distance, hybrid and asynchronous learning.

The CFA has argued Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May budget revision — which fully restored the CSU’s budget and which Chancellor Joseph Castro said produced the system’s best budget in 40 years — allows for the 4% raises.

While Mike Uhlenkamp, senior director of public affairs for the Chancellor’s Office, said the CSU wants to reward the efforts of faculty, whom he considers the backbone of the campuses, he said the system is fiscally constrained.

“What it comes down to is, ‘Do we have the fiscal ability to be able to provide that level of compensation that they’re seeking?’” Uhlenkamp said. “And at this point, we do not.”

(Nicolas Hernandez | The Poly Post)

Disagreements over funding for faculty salary raises continue despite past CFA criticisms of recent executive salary increases. This includes Castro’s record-setting salary of $625,000 approved by the CSU Board of Trustees last year — a 30% increase in base salary from his predecessor.

In addition to base salary increases, the CFA is calling for 2.65% increases in faculty members’ service salaries and post-promotion for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 years as well as $20 million toward a salary equity program.

Finally, the CFA is also advocating the CSU to offer three-year employment contracts to coaches who have been employed longer than six years and to ensure the Faculty Early Retirement Program continues to support eligible faculty members.

The CFA’s proposals total about $361 million. The CSU’s counterproposal would only cost $45 million — roughly an eighth of what the CFA seeks.

“They can give lip service to how happy they are, how hard we’ve worked to transition during a pandemic,” Von Glahn said. “But they are not showing us that with their proposal.”

While the CSU plan is significantly lower than the CFA’s, the CSU’s 2021-2022 final budget summary says the $45 million allocated for compensation adjustment is the third highest priority out of this academic year’s $550 million in total expenditure increases; first being the restoration of 2020-21 general fund decrease of $299 million, and second being the Graduation Initiative 2025 at $150 million.

While the organizations’ bargaining teams scheduled multiple meetings in September to continue negotiating compensation — an issue in which both sides appear resolute — they did reach tentative agreements on 20 articles of the contract.

The most current contract expired on June 30; however, the contract negotiations have already been extended twice since then.

Upcoming meetings are scheduled for Sept. 23, 24 and 30. If nothing changes by Sept. 30, a third party may be brought in to aid the negotiations.

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