CFA reaches 100 days of crumbling negotiations with CSU

Matthew Malone

The Sacramento State chapter of the California Faculty Association marked last week the 100th day since its previous contract with the CSU system expired with a table in the Library Quad.

The Oct. 8 event was part of a series of marches, pickets and informational booths at l13 of the 23 CSU campuses.

The Sac State chapter was protesting faculty salary levels, which are being called unfair. In 2013, assistant professors with four years of experience earned on average $2,784 less than newly hired assistant professors, chapter president Kevin Wehr said in an email.

At the CFA table, faculty could make video messages or sign a letter to President Alexander Gonzalez, asking the president to support CFA’s salary proposals for Sac State.

“For pennies on the dollar—just 0.46% of the CSU Sacramento budget (excluding funds in extended education and other funds in foundation accounts), you could help alleviate the problems and close the gap between the CSU and California Faculty Association’s contract proposals,” the letter read.

Also at the table sat a dummy of Gonzalez, with a plate of Oreos and glasses of milk set in front of it.

“I have all the cookies, and you don’t get a crumb,” signs near the dummy’s head read.

Wehr said Gonzalez, who is serving his final term as Sac State president, is in a special position to have an impact on negotiations.

“He has a chance to really help define his legacy,” Wehr said.

Mike Uhlenkamp, director of public affairs for CSU, said a framework for a contract settlement had been reached a week earlier. He said he didn’t think the campus events would affect negotiations, in light of the tentative settlement.

“We do have an expectation that there will be an agreement reached sometime next week,” he said Thursday.

Elizabeth Strasser, an anthropology professor who stopped to sign the letter to Gonzalez, said students can feel the impact of faculty salaries.

“It affects the students because it affects the morale of the faculty,” she said.

Cecil Canton, a criminal justice professor and the associate vice president for affirmative action at CFA, said the salary levels had caused some faculty members to leave for higher pay.

“We’ve lost some people who just couldn’t afford to stay here,” he said.

He said the loss of faculty could hurt the university’s reputation with potential employers, harming students looking for jobs.

“A lot of people want to know where you were educated, where you went,” he said.

CFA’s Sac State chapter organized the event in partnership with Students for Quality Education, an organization advocating for education rights in the CSU system. SQE set up a table next to CFA’s.

Erica Zamora, a fourth-year communication studies major who was volunteering at the SQE table, said the Sac State chapter was trying to spread awareness about policies affecting students, such as Proposition 30, which has temporarily increased the state sales tax and income taxes on high-income Californians to provide more education funding.

CFA field representative Jason Conwell said a goal of the events is to get the attention of the Sac State president and the CSU chancellor, Timothy White.

“What we’re trying to do is get a message to President Gonzalez and Chancellor White,” he said. “We’re losing good faculty every year.”

Uhlenkamp said the Chancellor knows about the negotiations and how they are progressing, but is not directly involved in them.

“On that note, I also would add that the chancellor has dedicated the majority of the funding in the 2014-15 budget towards compensation.”

The 2014-15 state budget included $142 million in additional funds for the CSU system, $90 million of which has been designated for faculty and staff salary increases.

Canton said compensation is a way of showing respect for faculty.

“Most of us love doing this. We get a charge out of helping students. We want to feel that we’re being valued in terms of what we’re doing,” he said.