CFA demands fair contract at convocation

Natasha Dodson

The California State University faculty picketed during President Gonzalez’s Fall 2014 Convocation to raise concerns about a fair contract.

With unresolved issues pending salary and workload, a negotiation failed to be reached by the expired contract date and was extended until Sept. 19 where the California Faculty Association hopes to come to an agreement with management.

During the convocation, the CFA wore t-shirts reading, “Fair Contract Now” and held signs that highlighted priorities that were misplaced, according to CFA Sacramento President, Kevin Wehr.

“It’s been eight years since our last raise,” Wehr said. “We’re hoping to settle the contract by next meeting.”

20 to 25 people picketed the meeting with frustrations ranging from workload relief to equitable salaries in order to take care of their families. Among those were Sac States’ Government Professor Stan Oden.

“We have lost money over the past 7 years,” Oden said. “We have taken a 10 percent furlough and had our wages frozen. Now that the recession is not as bad we’re looking to get properly compensated.”

Wehr added that half a million was spent on upgrades to the athletics department but not put into the classrooms.

“We questioned that,” Oden said. “I am a former athlete so I have nothing against [them], but I am concerned why they aren’t paying more for salary?”

In a report from the CSU Chancellor’s Office on August 27th, the CSU bargaining team explained that, despite this significant shortfall, the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees decided to allocate $91.6 million (or 64.4 percent) of the available $142.2 million in new state revenues to employee compensation, including a proposed $46 million specifically for faculty.

New hires were contracted with higher salaries while the more experienced faculty suffered due to a lack of progression in their salary ranges. The faculty are looking to bargain for salaries that will shape the income and economic well-being of faculty for years to come.

With the most serious shortcoming being the lack of Service Salary Increases (SSIs), the CFA fears that if the faculty isn’t valued, the students may suffer a lack of quality education.

According to the CFA website, class sizes have dramatically increased lately, creating an imbalance of student-teacher ratio. The responsibilities have grown for some due to the failure to hire permanent faculty.

CSU Director of Public Affairs Mike Uhlenkamp said that both parties are working together to come to address the workload and salaries but wasn’t sure when they would come to a resolution.

“Additional bargaining sessions will be taking place in September and we are hopeful that we can arrive at an agreement in the near future.” Uhlenkamp said.

Their goal is to create a contract that provides faculty working conditions which foster excellent student learning conditions and settle the equity deficit on campus.

“We want to put pressure on the campus president,” Wehr said. “Our visibility [at the meeting] sent a symbolic message.”