Source: Source: CFA Dec. 17, 2021, Tentative Agreement (Nicolas Hernandez | The Poly Post)

Faculty union ratifies CSU employment contract

By Joshua Hernandez, Feb. 8, 2022

After months of slow-moving negotiations with California State University officials, the California Faculty Association ratified its new employment contract, which will go into effect immediately.

This new contract was approved by 95% of the CFA’s voting members across the CSU’s 23 campuses, according to the CFA’s website, with the voting period lasting from Jan. 18 to Feb. 2. This comes after the CSU Board of Trustees unanimously voted to ratify the agreement on Jan. 25, with Chancellor Joseph Castro praising both negotiation teams for their work toward reaching common ground.

“I am extremely pleased with the result, which reflects the guiding principle I communicated to my team throughout this long and – at times – challenging process: to lift up the CSU’s faculty through respect, equity and fairness, while balancing the need to meet the CSU’s student mission,” Castro said during the January 2022 CSU Board of Trustees meeting.

The CSU and CFA reached a tentative agreement on Dec. 17, 2021 after the CSU bargaining team offered what could be their final contract proposal for this round of bargaining.

Much like the proposals which CFA has tirelessly endorsed since bargaining began on March 5, 2020, the CSU’s new faculty contract offers $3,500 COVID service awards, a 4% general salary increase for the 2021-2022 academic year retroactive to July 1, 2021, another 4% GSI depending on the state budget for the 2022-2023 year, two 2.65% service salary increases for faculty below the service salary increase maximum for 2021-2022 and 2023-2024 and one 2.65% post-promotion increase available to full professors, librarians, head coaches and Lecture D faculty who are ineligible for SSIs according to the salary schedule.

Source: CFA Dec. 17, 2021, Tentative Agreement (Nicolas Hernandez | The Poly Post)

According to Gwen Urey, the CFA Pomona Chapter representative on the bargaining team and a member of CFA Pomona chapter’s Election Committee, the SSIs and PPI will supplement the income of faculty at the bottom and top of the schedule, respectively.

“We figure that people that are at the low ends of the ranges when all these get added together will get close to 20% in the life of the contract,” Urey said. “So, most of us will not get 20% because we won’t get the SSIs, or someone will get one SSI, but not the other.”

Not only is this an improvement over the CSU’s initial offer of a 2% salary increase, but it also provides lecturer and librarian faculty with three years of an expanded range elevation program which allows them to elevate to the next range without having to reach the final step in their current range.

If approved for range elevation, faculty also receive a salary increase of at least 5% or the percentage increase needed to ascend the next range’s minimum.

“I think it’s a decent proposal; it hits the right financial buttons,” CFA Pomona Chapter Vice President Jonathan Puthoff said. “And once again, it’s arguable whether or not the dollars are enough, but there are plenty of other things we got in the tentative agreement that are once again the non-monetary aspects.”

Such non-monetary aspects include the ability for librarians and counselors to work remotely, assigned time for new probationary faculty to design their classes and begin their scholarly work before they are required to teach their courses, more exceptional service awards, recognition of cultural taxation within the policy and the inclusion of caste in non-discrimination protections.

Additionally, two joint CSU-CFA workgroups will be formed, one of which will try to develop ideas for faculty contracts longer than the current three-year terms and a new classification for professors of practice or teaching tenure.

The second workgroup will try to propose ideas for improving parental support for faculty and produce cost estimates, with CSU agreeing to increase paid parental leave.

There will also be a task force convened by the chancellor and composed of CSU stakeholders such as faculty, staff, unions and students who will develop alternative policing methods and improved conflict mediation.

However, there are a few asks from CFA which were not included in the new contract, such as the lack of a formal equity program to address salary compression and inversion.

Salary compression occurs when employees working the same position earn roughly the same amount of money regardless of seniority. Inversion takes this a step further and occurs when senior employees begin earning less than newer employees.

There is also no immediate alternative to campus policing, meaning that in the event of a mental health crisis, faculty members’ only option is to call campus police departments. However, if any of the workgroups come up with alternative ideas, Castro can approve them during the contract.

“All of this is arguable, depending on what you think the inflation rate is, how you consider the different destinations for the money being put up,” Puthoff said. “I think, for the most part, this is satisfactory to most people.”

The new employment contract will remain in effect until June 30, 2024; however, there is also an agreement to reopen salary negotiations in 2023-2024.

For more information on the new contract, the tentative agreement compilation can be found on the CFA’s website.

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