The California Faculty Association announced one-day strike dates across four California State University campuses Nov. 9.
Cal Poly Pomona is holding the first one-day strike Dec. 4, followed by San Francisco State Dec. 5, Cal State Los Angeles Dec. 6 and Sacramento State Dec. 7. During the strike, which the CFA stated 95% of voting members authorized, participating faculty will refrain from teaching and any other work they would normally do for the CSU system, such as grading and answering emails.
The CFA is negotiating for 12% pay raises, improved workloads through minimum course cap standards and to improve student access to mental health services by lowering the current counselor-to-student ratio of 1:1,900.
The CFA also seeks to improve campus safety by limiting the power of police on campus, increase the length of paid parental leave, from 12 to 16 weeks and make campuses more inclusive with gender-neutral restrooms, lactation spaces and milk storage.
The CFA is looking to amend Articles 20, 23, 31 and 37 in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, a document which outlines the terms and conditions of employment for the bargaining unit.
Article 20 covers faculty responsibilities and workloads, Article 23 sets guidelines for leaves of absence with pay in situations like pregnancy or jury duty, Article 31 pertains to salary and Article 37 concerns health and safety.
The CFA and CSU system ratified the Collective Bargaining Agreement in February 2022, and it is in effect until June 30, 2024. Since the CFA could not come to a consensus with the CSU for this current year during the initial negotiation, they agreed to re-open salary related articles of the agreement this year.
Prefacing the strike, the CSU has not been able to come to an agreement about a salary increase for faculty. Faculty are asking for 12%, but the closest offer the CSU gave was 5%. A fact finder report found CSU should be able to offer a 7% salary increase.
“Funding for education in general, especially universities, has dwindled over the decades,” said Vallejo. “In that, we see a lot of ways that learning environments are impacted. Teaching conditions are learning conditions. If faculty are able to dedicate their time to doing a lot of the important mentorship for you all, that makes it a better experience for you.”
According to the CFA, CPP administrators used anti-strike tactics by encouraging students to report professors who participated in the strike to help the university “understand the impact of the strike on your student experience” and have blocked mass emails pertaining to the strike.
An email sent by CLASS Council President Tony Truong Thursday, Nov. 30, stated CPP administration blocked them from sending an email to College of Arts Letters and Social Sciences students, supporting the strike. The letter was forwarded to the Office of the President and then was denied. The original letter that was meant to be sent is now up on the CLASS Council Instagram.
CFA bargaining team member and CPP urban and regional planning Department Chair and professor Gwen Urey stated her stated her hopes for near universal support and participation during the strike at CPP Dec. 4.
“I’m hoping for hundreds of faculty members on the picket line that day,” said Urey. “We’ll have several picket stations, and I hope there are uncountable numbers at every one.”
Urey added the reasoning behind the raise the CFA is pushing for is because non-tenured faculty starting salaries are far lower than theyit should be. History professor Päivi Hoikkala cited inflation and California’s high cost of living as reasons the raise is necessary.
“The goal of the 12% pay raises is to match inflation,” said Hoikkala. “One of my colleagues is currently spending over 50% of her salary on rent alone, so this pay raise is not meant to be a raise, more of an attempt to begin to raise our pay to a livable wage post-inflation.”
Associate professor of ethnomusicology Jessie Vallejo is one such faculty member who has felt the effects of these low starting salaries. Vallejo shared her personal experiences in struggling with finances when she began working as a professor and how it affected her goals.
“With an assistant or even an associate professor’s pay, being somebody who was single when I started this job, it didn’t qualify for a home loan at all,” said Vallejo. “It was really hard to transition into this job, save money and be able to plan a future. It’s impacted planning a family., Iit’s impacted a lot of things and has made it difficult.”