Union, CSU strike deal

Greg Kane

Negotiators for the California State University and the faculty union reached a tentative contract agreement Saturday, effectively ending a year of stalled negotiations, protests and threatened strikes.

The contract proposal provides faculty with a 2 percent pay increase in each of its first two years, and also includes funding for additional raises, health care for full-time lecturers and stipends for department chairs, said California Faculty Association spokeswoman Alice Sunshine.

The agreement also provides improved job security for non-tenured lecturers and excludes merit raises based on outside projects.

Faculty members will vote to approve the contract later this month, followed by a final vote by the CSU Board of Trustees in May, said CFA Sacramento chapter President Jeff Lustig. Sources from both sides said they expect the contract to be approved.

The proposal surprised some union members, who had threatened to strike in late March if a contract agreement wasn?t reached.

“Reed had seemed to me so belligerent, I figured he was pushing us into a strike,” Lustig said. “It did surprise me.”

CSU Spokeswoman Clara Potes-Fellow said the agreement benefits both parties and allows the system?s 23 campuses to get back to its main purpose of educating students.

“We?re very happy to have reached an agreement with the union, and we?re very happy the faculty will be able to get the kind of increase they deserve,” Potes-Fellow said.

If approved, the three-year contract would give faculty two 2 percent increases, one in April and another in July, Sunshine said.

Negotiations for a third increase would re-open in 2003, depending on what the state?s economic situation is like by then.”It?s hard to say what the state budget is going to look like in two years,” Sunshine said.

Temporary faculty, who make up nearly half of the faculty in the system, received health care benefits in the agreement. Those with six or more years of experience, who previously had to renew their contracts every year, will get three-year contracts if the deal is approved, Sunshine said.

“They would continue to get those three-year contracts, unless there was a report of misconduct,” Sunshine said.

Lustig said the proposal also provides more job security for non-tenured faculty, since individual departments would have to give sufficient reason to dismiss a lecturer. Previously, lecturers could be replaced after their one-year contracts expired, he said.”The burden of proof has shifted,” Lustig said.

The CSU also agreed to conduct searches to fill 1,200 permanent positions in order to lighten faculty workloads, Sunshine said. With the state facing a potential $12 billion budget shortage, however, there is no solid commitment to hiring more faculty this year, she said.

“We know the budget situation this year isn?t great, so it?s not a good time to be talking about hiring more (faculty),” Sunshine said.On top of the general salary increases, additional funding for salary step increases was included in the agreement. The union has criticized the CSU in the past for taking those increases from the general salary pool.

Faculty Merit Increases, which reward faculty for outside research and writing, were not included in the first two years of the contract, Sunshine said. If the negotiated increase in the third year reaches 3.5 percent or more, the two sides would then set up a committee to look at re-instituting the merit increases.

The removal of merit pay brings an end to the controversial collection of Faculty Activity Reports, in which faculty members were required to evaluate themselves in order to be eligible for a merit increase. According to Lustig, “everybody hated” filing the report.

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