Faculty union calls for action

Brett Johnson

The California Faculty Association on Sept. 28 urged colleagues to support one-day strikes and picketing at all California State University campuses in protest of the administration’s rejection of negotiated pay raises.

Statewide CFA President Lilian Taiz announced CSU East Bay or CSU Dominguez Hills will hold “concerted actions” on Nov. 17. This could range from supporting the CFA with T-shirts to picketing on campus, or any other “activity that disrupts the (CSU) organization.”

The CFA also asked faculty to motivate its respective campuses to participate in informational picketing on Nov. 8 or 9.

One of the main reasons for CFA’s uproar is the “reopener” salary negotiations, which came about as the state budget began to fluctuate. Reopener bargaining allows two sides of a labor dispute to renegotiate promised raises to an agreed upon amount.

Taiz encouraged faculty during CFA’s statewide E-summit to consider what is at stake behind the CFA-CSU negotiations.

“We can summarize it bluntly, but accurately: Nothing now, and less later,” Taiz said. “The offer is zero salary increases now, with a demand to reopen in future years on pay and benefits, including retirement and medical insurance.”

CSU spokesman Erik Fallis said concerted actions in response to labor bargaining are not appropriate, and the system has never proposed any reductions in employee salaries, benefits or pensions.

“Concerted activity of any type by the faculty union is premature, disruptive and puts students in jeopardy just as they are beginning the fall semester,” Fallis said.

Through proposal bargaining, the CFA has been asking for a 1 percent general salary raise this year, next year and the year following. The group has also proposed that associate professors receive the back pay promised in the 2008-09 contract.

The CSU, on the other hand, has proposed faculty salaries remain at the same level – no reductions, but no increases.

Since the two sides have been unable to reach agreement, the matter was brought to a neutral third-party panel. Two fact-finding panels have previously addressed this issue, and the CSU rejected both prior recommendations.

The fact-finding panel sided with the CFA in its findings on a report issued Sept. 6, recommending the CSU pay $20 million in equity repayment and salary increases to faculty.

Bill Candella, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed’s representative, immediately responded with a statement of dissent to the recommendations, on the basis that it is “riddled with factual errors” and “does not reference CSU’s position.”

On Sept. 16, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Gail Brooks circulated a memo to all CSU employees. Included in the memo was the CSU’s “last, best and final offer,” which imposed on the fact-finder’s recommendation – offering no raises for faculty or equity payment.

“The chancellor has imposed against the recommendation of a third-party arbitrator, which means the faculty now have the legal ability to take concerted action,” said Kevin Wehr, Sacramento State’s CFA chapter president. “That is the technical reasoning for it, but the faculty are overall just pissed off about the chancellor’s intransigence.”

Fallis said the faculty union has recognized the economic challenges faced by the CSU in 2009-10 by agreeing to furloughs, which has led to some surprise over the CFA’s reaction to current negotiations.

“It would be inappropriate for the CSU to award $20 million in increases to a small group of faculty,” Fallis said.

“At the same time, the system was slashed by almost $600 million and was forced to implement system-wide pay cuts in the form of furloughs, which included executives and administrators.”

The CFA remains unconvinced, due to the publicity surrounding the state funding cuts and the actions of the administration.

The CSU administration has dramatically increased student tuition and simultaneously increased the salaries of top executives, and used the economic downturn to shut out the voice of the faculty, Taiz said.

“Faculty have not seen raises in three years, and the increases we are asking for are going to a small section of associate professors and faculty, who have not seen raises,” Wehr said. “This is minimal compared to the lavish pay raises going to CSU executives.”

Fallis says the faculty union’s claims about the “flat” salaries of faculty compared to the “increasing” salaries of executives are misleading.

“In fact, faculty were the most recent group of employees to receive a general salary increase, which they received in 2008,” Fallis said. “There have not been general salary increases since 2007 for any staff or managerial positions.

Sitting presidents and the chancellor have also not seen pay increases since this time.”

The CFA, however, has not made its decision to take concerted action only based on the rejection of the fact-finding panel’s recommendation. While negotiating salary, the CFA and CSU also continue to dispute over their next labor contract.

“The issue of unpaid salaries cannot be separated from the collective bargaining table discussions,” Wehr said. “We are negotiating for the stability of our workforce, and our ability to provide a quality education to students.”

The CSU Chancellor’s Office has proposed a One-sentence change to Article 12, which would obligate lecturers to undergo an evaluation process before receiving a three-year contract. Previously, the contract was automatically awarded after working for a department for six years with satisfactory performance reviews.

Some of the other operational changes in discussion include requiring faculty to report outside employment, paying professors teaching summer courses offered through extended education on a per-student rate and not paying for the release time of the union president and political action chair to conduct union business.

The CFA and the CSU will continue to negotiate for their successor contract, which has already has been extended past its June 2010 expiration.

Fallis said exceeding the expiration date is normal for collective bargaining agreements, and the contract they are working on is still relatively early in the process.

Wehr said he does not believe Sac State will go on strike this term, but such a move could be a possibility if progress is not made by the spring.

Brett Johnson can be reached at [email protected]


Stances on 2009-10 salary reopener

California State University

-The provision of funds from the state generally continues a traumatic decline.

-The student fee revenue increase was minimal. Any savings in operating expenses were as a result of furloughs, layoffs, etc. These savings were used to cover the decreased revenues.

-Funds should not be utilized for 2009-10 which can be applied to negotiations for 2011-12 and forward.


California Faculty Association

-The CSU system has failed to honor the negotiated increases found in the parties’ collective bargaining agreement (2007-2010).

-Retention of the 0 percent adjustment advocated by the CSU would maintain faculty salaries at the bottom 10 percent of all comparable jurisdictions.

-There has been negative impact on recruitment and retention of faculty.

Source: Sept. 6 fact finding report