New CFA contract meets bare minimum with members

Gregory Allen

The California Faculty Association ratified a new three-year contract with minimal progress toward years of unsatisfactory salaries for California State University employees.

Members of the CFA voted for the new agreement online between Nov. 1 and 9, with 91 percent voting in favor of the agreement. The contract is retroactive to July 1 and will remain in effect until June 30, 2017.

Jason Conwell, who serves as the CFA field representative for CSU Chico and Sac State, said the contract does not go very far but serves as a great starting point.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Conwell said. “We’re making a good first step towards addressing some of the salary inequities.”

For six years, many CSU faculty have not received a salary raise. This stagnation allows newly-hired faculty members to receive pay at the same or higher salary rate than faculty with more years of experience.

Sac State Physical Therapy Lecturer Lois Boulgarides, who also serves on the CFA bargaining team that negotiated the contract, is happy about the new agreement, but said it “barely begins to address the wage stagnation for lecturers over the past six years.”

“Lecturers have been really stuck at the very bottom on our campus – on many campuses,” Boulgarides said. “But I think our campus, perhaps more than other campuses, really tends to lowball lecturers when they first come in.”

Boulgarides said although the treatment of lecturers varies between departments and colleges on campus, they are often taken advantage of by the administration.

“By and large, I think they do it because they can,” she said. “They’re trying to meet their budget and where they save their money is on the backs of lecturers, and that’s the way it’s always been at the CSU.”

According to CFA Capitol Chapter President Kevin Wehr, bargaining members were also able to establish “campus-based programs to specifically address the situation of pay inequities on campus” in the new contract.

In addition to salary readjustments,the contract addresses changes in workload relief, intellectual property and sabbatical leave. Wehr said the relief was one of the biggest priorities in the negotiation process.

“In the past, management has been unwilling to even admit that there’s a workload problem,” Wehr said. “Of course, faculty and students know there’s a workload problem because every semester that goes by, you see more and more students sitting in your classroom.”

The faculty “who demonstrate extraordinary service to students” can apply for workload relief, which includes getting a course off from teaching with pay, Wehr said. The bargaining team was not able to secure workload relief for all faculty in this contract.

“Obviously in future contracts we’ll be able to work on expanding that,” Wehr said.

In her 25 years of teaching experience, Sac State English professor Lynda Radican has observed the effects of workload on her students’ education. She said the workload has hindered her from being able to provide her students with the individual attention that they need.

“That seems to be the way things have been going,” Radican said. “The students pay the price, and the faculty pay the price.”

Boulgarides agrees that the quality of education that students receive is a direct result of the way lecturers are treated.

“And really, faculty teaching conditions are student learning conditions,” Boulgarides said. “When the lecturers are either underpaid, or overworked, that certainly takes its toll on the students.”

Despite all of the issues within the CSU regarding payment and workload, Conwell admits that lecturers within the CSU “have some of the best rights in the country in terms of employment”, and unlike previous contracts, the new agreement does not contain any “takeaways.”

“There isn’t anything negative in this agreement,” Conwell said. “They’re not taking away any rights.”