Union pickets Chancellor

Image: Union pickets Chancellor:Photo by Deseret Palmer/State Hornet:

Image: Union pickets Chancellor:Photo by Deseret Palmer/State Hornet:

Greg Kane

More than 300 faculty members and students at a recent protest of California State University Chancellor Charles Reed in Downtown Sacramento has faculty union officials optimistic about the future.

The picket, assembled on short notice, received a larger-than-expected turnout, said CFA Sacramento chapter Vice President Jim Chopyak.

“Almost all the faculty I’ve had contact with expressed support for the protest,” Chopyak said.

The protest consisted mainly of CFA members, but also included students, some of whom traveled from as far as Los Angeles to participate. Picketers bearing shirts and signs with the slogan “Stop the Rip-Offs” marched across the street from the Sutter Club on Ninth Street, where Reed, Sacramento State President Donald Gerth and other CSU administrators were to appear at an alumni dinner.

Speakers took turns blasting Reed’s plan for the system, which they said was a corporate model that compensates its administrators while faculty members are overloaded with courses. Sacramento Central Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer Bill Camp accused the chancellor of using money for administrative raises that should have gone toward hiring new faculty for the system’s overcrowded classrooms.

“We’re not going to allow this guy to take money from our kids and stick it into his and other administrators’ pockets,” Camp said.Gerth told The State Hornet that he and other administrators “had a very productive day working with the legislature,” but refused to comment on the picket.

Reed was unavailable for comment, but did speak briefly with CFA General Manager Bob Muscat outside the club about the nearly yearlong contract dispute between the two sides.

“I think he’s embarrassed and worried,” Muscat said.

Protesters echoed concerns that the CSU hasn’t hired enough professors to compensate for surging enrollments in the system, and those they do hire are part-time and not as available to students. Sac State CFA Lecturer Representative Linda Current said she has been at the University for 22 years without being granted tenure, and as her pay scale grows, so do concerns that she could be replaced with someone making less money.

“Since we’re on year-to-year contracts, we can gain experience and find ourselves out of a job,” Current said.

Sac State student Joe Devlin cited overcrowded classrooms and faculty overloads as his motives for joining the picket. Sporting a sign that read “If I wanted to go to school in an overcrowded facility, I would have gone to prison,” he said addressing faculty concerns is the first step for improving education in the system.

“The CSU system is in dire need, and it all starts with the faculty,” Devlin said.

Contract negotiations are in a fact-finding stage, expected to last until the end of February, said CFA Vice President Lillian Taiz. Faculty members have worked without a new contract since June 2001. Though they have worked under the terms of their previous contract since then, that deal expires after the fact-finding is completed, and the union has authorized campuses to begin preparations for a strike vote.

Should a faculty strike occur, Taiz said the union would have enough support from students and faculty to get the chancellor’s attention.

“I’ve been going from campus to campus to campus,” Taiz said. “People are fed up.”