Faculty union contract saves CSU millions in back-pay

Greg Kane

Faculty union leaders expect a tentative contract agreement with the California State University to be approved when they vote later this month, despite some concerns that full-time professors didn?t get enough in a deal that saves the system millions in retroactive pay.

Some Sacramento State professors have complained that the first 2 percent raise in the California Faculty Association’s March 2 deal with the CSU does not start with the last day of the previous contract, said CFA Sacramento chapter President Jeff Lustig.

If approved, the increase for the first year will be implemented next month, with another 2 percent raise in July.

“If we had the power to get whatever we wanted, we wouldn’t have to go into collective bargaining,” Lustig said. “(The professors who are complaining) think the union is a travel agent that can get you the cheapest ticket to Paris.”

Aside from pay provisions, the new contract is retroactive to July 1, 2001, the date the faculty’s previous contract expired.

Concerns that temporary faculty and department chairs received more benefits in the proposal have also been voiced, Lustig said.

Non-tenured lecturers were granted health benefits and guaranteed three-year contracts, and department chairs are scheduled to receive a seven percent increase in June.

Lustig said the complaints he has heard are from a small number of non-union faculty members, and wouldn’t affect the CFA ratification vote later this month. Losing the pay increase in the contact’s first year is a sacrifice the union had to make to reach an agreement, he said.

Sac State CFA Lecturer Representative Linda Current said she’s heard some complaints that the contract is “just for lecturers,” but said that it isn’t the case. The fact that the agreement gives faculty members a pay raise and eliminates merit increases, which reward faculty with increases for outside projects, should make everybody happy, she said.

“There will be a few people questioning what we gave up, but overall I think this is an incredibly wonderful contract,” Current said.

The CSU saved nearly $16 million by not making the initial pay increase retroactive to the first year of the contract, said CSU Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Sam Strafachi, who served as head negotiator for the Chancellor’s Office. That compromise, along with the ability to work out a three-year contract, was the sticking point in the negotiations, he said.

Strafachi said that although temporary faculty received a number of benefits in the agreement, those with tenure were granted a favorable pay raise and a promise to look into filling 1,200 full-time positions in the future and should view the contract as a positive.

“If you are a tenured faculty member who is not getting a special pay raise like the department chairs are, you’re getting a (combined) 4 percent increase in April and July,” Strafachi said. “That’s kind of what’s in it for them.”