The Blog at CTA

Faculty Association Announces Likely Start Date for First Statewide Strike at CSU

After two years of fruitless negotiations aimed at making faculty and students a top budget priority, California Faculty Association President Jennifer Eagan, a CSU Professor of Philosophy and Public Affairs & Administration, tells reporters that the union has called its first statewide strike to begin in mid-April for five days. She is flanked by CFA members and supporters including (from r.) CTA Board Members Curtis Washington and Leslie Littman.

More than 26,000 higher education faculty, librarians and other instructional personnel of the California State University system could be out on the picket lines for five days, from April 13-19, as part of the California Faculty Association’s (CFA) first statewide strike, the union’s officers announced at a Feb. 8 news conference in Sacramento.

CFA President Jennifer Eagan, a professor at California State University – East Bay, said the strike, already authorized by the union’s membership, would follow by 10 days the release of a fact-finding report that gives the union the legal right to strike.

“We don’t want to strike, but we will,” Eagan told television, radio, and print reporters who gathered at the CFA headquarters. “We have a right to defend ourselves and our families from economic disaster. One of our faculty members told the chancellor that she doesn’t have enough money to sustain her own life, even while giving her heart to her students.”

CFA representatives note that faculty have not seen a raise since 2008 and have lost thousands of dollars annually in purchasing power. The $46,000 average salary – with many faculty are earning much less – has forced some CFA members to rely on food banks for sustenance for themselves and their family. In some cases, they have lost homes to foreclosures or had to file bankruptcy.

(Photo above) Kevin Wehr, a sociology professor at Sacramento State and CFA bargaining team chair, tells reporters that faculty have lost $9,000 in purchasing power since 2008.

“We can no longer stand for this disinvestment in instruction,” declared Kevin Wehr, the CFA’s bargaining chair. “Management continues to reward itself with riches….while our students get second best.”

Union representatives linked their struggle with the battle of workers around the nation, including K-14 educators in California, for a livable wage.

“More and more, the system is putting faculty in temporary and low-paying part-time positions. This is an injustice to faculty,” said Antonio Gallo, of the CFA contract development and bargaining committee. “The majority of us can’t even afford to live where we teach.”

The CFA has been “Fighting for 5,” a 5% compensation increase CFA members believe is fair. Management has been offering 2%, despite never insisting that the university system cannot afford to meet the CFA salary demand.

CFA President Eagan explained to reporters that higher faculty members don’t receiver regular “step increases,” longevity increases tied to years of service. “She noted that all of their CSU increases have to be bargained at the table, and their pay has been stagnant since 2008 and losing ground prior to that.

(Photo above) The union’s T-shirts and buttons spell out its message – CFA members are prepared to strike if that is necessary to secure a fair, 5% raise and force management to make the classroom, students, and faculty the top budget priority.

The job action is set to begin after the anticipated public release of the fact-finding report that is being finalized by a three-personal panel. The fact-finding report is not binding on the parties.

It is expected the fact-finding report will determine that management’s fixation on boosting its only salaries and perks have come at the expense of students and teachers.

(Photo above) Flanked by CFA, CTA, and SEIU representatives, Antonio Gallo, a member of the union’s bargaining team, stresses that the battle is for fairness and against injustice. Like Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, human rights pioneers, the union is confident it can win. “Si, se puede,” Gallo underscored.

While the union has never struck all 23 of the state’s campuses, in 2011 a strike was called to idle two campuses.

 

Handwritten signs made by CFA members and used at recent events stress their focus on students and the education process.

(Photo above) Electronic and print media outlets covered the event. 

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