Faculty salary raises on hold

Lauren Greenwood

As the school year comes to a close, California State University faculty will not receive the salary increases promised in the 2007 collective bargaining agreement with the CSU system.A neutral fact-finding team recently concluded that faculty salary increases are “unwarranted” in the current budget situation, according to a CSU press release.The CSU and the California Faculty Association negotiated faculty salary raises in the 2007 collective bargaining agreement, a written contract concerning terms and conditions of employment, rights and duties of employees and pay increases. In the agreement, which will expire on June 30, the CSU promised to pay annual salary increases to faculty members.They agreed on three different types of annual salary increases. The first was a general salary increase, which was a raise for all faculty members. The second was a service salary increase, also known as “step increases” provided to those who have completed a negotiated amount of time, said Erik Fallis, spokesman for CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, in an e-mail to The State Hornet. The third was the equity salary increase, which is a two-year program that is supposed to address pay inequity between faculty members. Inequity exists because people with more experience are being paid less than newly hired faculty.After fiscal year 2007-08, the CSU paid only the equity salary increases. The CSU did not pay any of the agreed-upon salary increases in 2008-09.John Kagel, a lawyer and head of the fact-finding team, said in his report that in 2007-08, equity payments went to 2,000 people, but the second set of payments for 2008-09 were not paid at all. Because of this, some assistant professors are now paid more than associate professors.”The CSU had the responsibility to have shown that it at least specifically considered and then discarded the equity program in its pay schedules on its merits of favor of funding something else, which it did not establish in this record,” Kagel said in his report.The fact-finding team determined that general salary increases and service salary increases are not justifiable because of the economic crisis, according to the report. The team concluded, however, that the CSU should pay the equity salary increases negotiated in 2008-09, and service salary increases that would help address inequity issues.”After days of arguments, the chancellor’s negotiators never said that the university lacks the funding to enact the faculty pay increases negotiated in the contract, but that there were other priorities,” Kagel said.Kevin Wehr, president of the Capitol chapter of CFA, said the faculty union believes the CSU will not pay any salary increases in fiscal year 2009-10 because it has not paid the promised salary increases in the past two years.Fallis said the CSU’s general fund support has been cut by $625 million, or 21 percent, over the past two years. The CSU agreed to pay for the equity program, as long as the CSU is not required to use “new money” to fund the increases.Wehr said it is important for faculty members to receive the salary raises promised to them by the CSU.”The faculty (members) are really angry and demoralized. Paying a just salary is a way of respecting the work we do,” Wehr said. “We’ve had enough difficulty with furloughs and it is time for the administration to show some respect and pay us what we deserve.”Although the fact-finding team’s conclusions are not what CFA wanted, members of the faculty union went to Chancellor Charles Reed’s office to ask for equity salary and service salary increases that addressed inequity. The chancellor’s office refused.Fallis said the costs of these two salary increases would be too expensive for the system.”The implementation of both the service salary increases and the equity programs are estimated at an annualized cost of $23 million,” Fallis said in his e-mail.CSU’s budget for 2009-10 was $4,239,727,000.The cost of the equity and service salary increases are one-half of 1 percent of the annual CSU budget, said Andy Merrifield, Sonoma State political science professor and member of the CFA bargaining team.”Don’t get confused about $23 million being a large amount. That would be the full implementation of the service salary increases and the equity programs,” Merrifield said.CSU offered faculty members $1.7 million in unspent funds to go toward salary increases, but CFA rejected the offer, according to the press release.Merrifield said the CSU’s press release doesn’t reflect all of the facts. The CSU is rolling over $1 million as obligated by the contract. The remaining $700,000 are leftover funds from other programs, he said.”The CSU is required to put money toward faculty salary increases. They aren’t offering any new money,” Merrifield said, The CFA will try to make the CSU fulfill its obligations and also try to solve inequity problems during the next contract negotiations, Merrifield said.He said the dispute between the CSU and CFA will last long after the contract expires next month.”I have colleagues who can’t afford to buy a house, who are paying for diapers for their babies on credit cards. The CSU pays 12 to 20 percent below average salaries for professors. That’s not sustainable,” Wehr said. “Students and faculty have the same interests of affordability, quality and accessible education.”