Faculty, students picket at SF State

Spirits were high as SF State students joined members of the California Faculty Association in informational picketing today about the one-day faculty strike, set for Nov. 17. Teachers and students marched along 19th Avenue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to call attention to the disparity in the California State University system and faculty working conditions.

The CFA Board of Directors voted in support of the strike by 93 percent Monday. Strikes will take place at the Cal State East Bay and Cal State Dominguez Hills campuses, with some universities hosting their own events.

“We are educators,” said Wei Ming Dariotis, CFA chapter president. “The informational picketing is to educate students on our unfair working conditions and make some noise.”

Dariotis is an Asian American studies professor who has been at SF State for 12 years. She said the CFA members are working in solidarity with other campus workers to create better working conditions for teachers, librarians, lecturers, coaches and other faculty.

The CFA Board of the Directors is in the process of negotiating a new faculty contract with the CSU Board of Trustees, led by Chancellor Charles Reed. The CFA is currently working under an extended 2007 contract, but renegotiations began after the CSU withheld a salary increase due to the budget crisis. The two sides have yet to reach an agreement.

“I don’t want to strike, to take even an hour away from my classes,” said Phil Klasky, SF State professor of American Indian studies. “It’s gotten so bad, we have to strike. The information picketing provides the opportunity to overload everybody with information and to show solidarity.”

Some students also joined the picketing in support of the faculty.

“You can’t put students first if you put faculty last,” said Sadaf Malik, student organizer for CSU Students for Quality Education. “Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions.”

Some CFA members marched in a circle, holding signs and chanting in unison, while others distributed informational flyers. Students were encouraged to join, such as Jennifer Chadwell who was eager to support the rights of teachers and students, but didn’t know if progress could be achieved through picketing.

“I’m not sure if anything will happen,” Chadwell said. “But if no one says anything, the injustice will continue.”

Erik Fallis, CSU spokesman, said the CSU is surprised by responses from the CFA, because members had agreed upon furloughs as a way to save money. Fallis said the CSU stands firm in its response that there are simply no funds to cover a faculty salary increase.

For senior Flynn Gourley, a faculty strike is understandable, but not at the expense of his education.

“I’m on the fence about it,” Gourley said, who watched the informational picketing from afar before picking up a sign and joining the march. “I think it’s important to stand up for teachers’ rights, but I don’t want to miss out on the education I’ve already paid for.”

Dariotis said the strikes were not ideal, but necessary. She said that the former contract was a strong agreement, one that honored workers rights and fair compensation.

Now, with the CFA running on its 2007-2008 contract in the midst of heavy bargaining, Dariotis said teachers are being forced to do more with less compensation or promise of better working conditions.

“There are lots of reasons to strike, including salary increases,” Dariotis said. “But it’s really for the students. I cannot provide a quality education with these working conditions.”

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