California Faculty Association, California State University to begin negotiations for contract

Imran Majid

The California Faculty Association will begin negotiations on its collective bargaining agreement with the California State University  system starting in January.

With the current agreement ending in June 2014, Sacramento State CFA President Kevin Wehr said the union is looking to develop its platform and present it at the Board of Trustees meeting in November.

“The California Faculty Association is eager to get started and get finished,” said Andy Merrifield, chair of the CFA collective bargaining committee. “We want this to go quickly. We hope it goes smoothly (but) quickly is not as important as a good contract.”

In August, the CFA reached an agreement with the CSU on a 1.34 percent salary compensation pool. Approximately $19.2 million was distributed evenly among faculty, coaches and librarians resulting in a base salary increase of approximately $960 per year.

The salary increase, which was retroactive to July 1, is the first cost of living adjustment for the faculty association since 2007.

“This does show some goodwill on the part of [Chancellor Timothy White],” Wehr said. “But the problem has not been solved. It remains an issue of great concern to wide swaths of the faculty.”

Wehr said because raises have not been paid, CSU faculty salaries have remained stagnant while market forces keep raising nationwide faculty salaries.

In order to compete and hire quality faculty, the CSU has been forced to offer raises to incoming faculty that are inflated compared to experienced already in place faculty.

 “We conceded some hard-fought gains in a way that was not harmful but could have been,”Merrifield said.

He said while he has not yet reviewed faculty surveys regarding CFA priorities, but  anticipates general salary increases to be one of the most important issues.

“We’ve given up five years to help our students, the state of California (and) the university,” Merrifield said. “We now know it is time to also help our families.”

While the chancellor does not participate in the actual bargaining process, CSU Director of Public Affairs Mike Uhlenkamp said White has engaged in discussions with members during his campus visits.

“When the bargaining does begin, the goal for the CSU team will be to reach a fair agreement that represents the best interests of both parties,” Uhlenkamp said.

Merrifield said White seems willing and open to work with the CFA, based on limited experiences. This will be White’s first time being involved with the faculty association negotiating process.

“We are cautiously optimistic that he will continue to bring (a) fresh ear to the relationship between the faculty and management,”  Merrifield said.