Tense negotiations have been occurring for two years as the CSU denied faculty members pay increases that were promised to them in the union’s contract. The CSU cited the contract’s allowance for amendments in times of economic hardship as the reason for denying raises.
The strike also took place at Cal State Dominguez Hills for CSU campuses in Southern California. The CFA approved the action earlier this month.
Sally Richardson-Cooperman, Cal State East Bay lecturer in the English department and SF State alumna, said she came to show her support because faculty were promised raises and that didn’t happen and because of the injustice of raising student fees.
“So the education for the students is bad, the teaching situation for the teachers are bad, so I’m here and I’m striking. I am supposed to be in class right now, but I’m striking,” Cooperman said. “I am seeing a lot of my colleges here and I am seeing a lot of people from other universities here, and that is really awesome that we are getting that much support.”
Picket lines at two entrances to the university snarled traffic as a few hundred CFA members and other participants carried signs.
CFA chapters from Sacramento State University, Cal State Stanislaus, Fresno State, Chico State, California Maritime Academy, San Jose State, Cal State Monterey Bay, Humbolt State University, Cal State East Bay and SF State were present at yesterday’s events.
Professor Gus Lease, 89, who teaches music appreciation at San Jose State, came out to participate in the day’s events. He has been teaching at San Jose State for 62 years and said he has seen many changes to the CSU system in that time.
“This is sad. We shouldn’t have to do this. We shouldn’t have to be out here,” Lease said. “If (Chancellor Charles B. Reed) were for us, you know he would be there asking the legislature to support the CSU system. Instead he sold us out.”
Lease is the longest tenured professor at San Jose State and, even though he retired in 1993, he stayed on teaching as a retired annuitant. He is also the former chair of the music department and has been a long-time union activist.
Members of the California Teachers Association, California State University Employees Union, APC and students also joined the strike. At least 60 other organizations and unions from across the U.S. also issued messages of support.
Two rallies took place yesterday and marches were conducted down West Loop Boulevard between picket lines. Speakers at the rallies included Dr. Richard Pan, assembly member for the 5th assembly district of California, Bob Wieckowski, assembly member representing the 20th assembly district of California, Sen. Ellen Corbett, Sen. Loni Hancock and Professor Cornel West of Princeton University.
“Yesterday the Board of Directors of CTA voted unanimously to support this struggle. That puts 325,000 more people standing with you and we will not step down. We will not step back until the power brokers of this state do the right thing,” said CTA President Dean Vogel at a noon rally.
Many teachers at Cal State East Bay canceled classes yesterday in order to support the CFA strike, but some teachers scheduled midterms requiring their students to come to class.
“I feel that they have every right to do that…I can see it both ways. Yeah, we are out here to protest because we want this equality we want out voices to be heard, but also we are paying for this. So of course a dedicated student should go to class,” said Kristen Bee, a Latin American studies major at Cal State East Bay, who said all the classes in her major are now online because of budget cuts.
Erik Fallis, spokesperson for the CSU, was present at the strike and responded to yesterday’s events by saying, “This is the reality, that the faculty union actually received $60 million dollars in increases between 2008-2010, which is a period they are striking over. But that wasn’t enough for the faculty union leadership they are demanding $20 million dollars more and they are willing to put students education in jeopardy because of that, because they are trying to make a statement and that is unfortunate.”
Fallis said that the CSU welcomes dialogue as long as everyone who participates is respectful of each other and a safe and secure environment for all students, faculty and staff is maintained.
Police from many different departments and CSU campuses were present at the strike, but the day was peaceful. No arrests were made.