The California State University system held a press conference Friday, Jan. 19 regarding the upcoming CFA strike.
Media correspondents from official news stations, as well as student run publications were invited to a press update with CSU Chancellor Mildred Garcia and other members from the CSU Board of Trustees.
The meeting started with Garcia stated the CSU is ready and willing to come back to the bargaining table however must work within their financial realities. Garcia also stated campuses will stay open and keep students updated with timely information and class statuses.
Status updates on negotiations were presented by Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Leora Freedman, who stated the CSU reached a deadlock in talks with the CFA.
“The CSU currently spends about 75% of its budget on compensation,” said Freedman. “If we were to agree to the increases that these unions are demanding, we would have to make severe cuts to programs, we would have to lay off employees.”
Freedman stated the CSU made several offers with movement, something that CFA members denied.
In response to alleged misinformation, Freedman stated they plan to address the reserves in the CSU.
According to Freedman, most of the CSU reserves go to “specific, necessary and critical campus obligations,” while the other portion is meant to be for “times of economic uncertainty or emergencies.” She calls the latter “emergency reserves.”
“We have about $766 million in emergency reserves,” said Freedman. “These emergency reserves could keep our campuses in operation for about 30 days.”
According to the CSU’s Designated Balances and Reserves, as of Oct. 6 2023, the reserves designated for economic uncertainty hold slightly over $1billion. As of the release of this article, no updates have since been made to the website.
Freedman stated the reserves cannot be used for ongoing expenses, such as salaries, and claims the idea can be another example of misinformation. The CFA has contested this argument.
An external fiscal analysis from Eastern Michigan University accounting professor Howard Bunsis came to the conclusion the CSU generates enough surplus to support all four proposals made by the CFA.
Steve Relyea, CFO of the CSU, stated the findings were incorrect and the $8.6 billion is not something that can easily be pulled from.
“About $7.8 billion, the majority of that, is tied up in firm obligations and critical commitments. A lot of it is protected by state law,” said Relyea.
Relyea claims that $1 billion will be “returned to the state for capital projects that are no longer going to be funded.” He said this would include financial aid and contractual commitments, such as housing and a modest increase to parking fees.
When asked about other proposals made to the CSU regarding longer parental leave, more counseling for students and managing bigger workloads, Freedman stated they have addressed these points.
Freedman said they did offer increased parental leave; however they can’t address other points without resources.
“Without resources we can’t do everything right away, and what we are offering is very reasonable and consistent with the shared values of the union,” said Freedman.
Students across CPP, and the CSU at large, received emails asking students to report if their classes are canceled for the week of the strike. When asked, CSU Associate Vice Chancellor for Labor and Employee Relations Christina Checel answered the information is being used to help students and parents.
“The information will be used to gauge the impacts and how our students have been impacted by the strike,” said Checel.
During the press update, Freedman shared negotiations with the Teamsters Local 2010 have resumed. A press release from the CSU was later released Jan. 19, announcing a tentative agreement, and that the Teamsters Local 2010 is not expected to strike Jan. 22-26.
To explain why CFA negotiations were cut short, the CSU stated in a follow up email to press correspondents that they “exercised its right under the impasse procedure to provide faculty with a 5% raise effective with the start of the February 2024 pay period.”
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