At this rate, someone could very easily turn the saga of the budget crisis into a soap opera.
The back and forth between the California Faculty Association and Chancellor Charles Reed has been an ongoing drama. The last 18 months have seen negotiations, demands and foot stomping from both sides. Now, as the CFA Board of Directors calls for another statewide faculty strike, the turmoil is ramping up once again.
Enough is enough. Students and teachers cannot continue to participate in this dog-and-pony show. Chancellor Reed and the CSU administration have the power to pull the plug on this ridiculousness.
Our professors are not asking for the moon, yet Chancellor Reed continues to stubbornly resist giving any of their bargaining points the time of day. According to a November 2011 negotiation update, representatives of the Chancellor’s office indicated they have no response to make concerning dire issues voiced by the CFA. These aren’t menial topics. These are concerns about everything from salary to workloads, benefits to rules about appointing instructors. You know, the important stuff that should not be ignored by a stubborn and out-of-touch Chancellor.
This attitude is not only disrespectful to faculty, but harmful. For every professor denied tenure because of a lack of funds and for every instructor who can’t afford to be rehired semester after semester, the blood is on the hands of those who refuse to negotiate.
All CSU administrators have to do is give the teachers what they deserve, and what they have been demanding for months. A reprieve from increased workloads and ballooning class sizes is not too much to ask. Anyone who is not willing to negotiate these items doesn’t deserve to be in a position to oversee them in the first place.
Those uncomfortable with the idea of a strike have to realize that CFA has been forced into the position after months of rejected negotiations. At this point, it is not their responsibility to call off the strike. It is Chancellor Reed’s responsibility to provide a settlement to faculty. It is his duty to students, faculty and everyone he represents in the CSU system to be flexible.
It is true that these strikes will inconvenience students. In the rolling two-day strike model proposed, the 23 CSU campuses would be broken into groups. Each group would participate in the strike for two days on different dates. Classes would be cancelled, homework and exams would go unreturned, and campus life would be disrupted. While this disruption would be annoying, a reality where our instructors continue to be stripped of their value is a much more disturbing prospect.
It is unacceptable that CSU faculty has been working without a contract for more than a year. It is unacceptable that the CFA’s proposals have been flat out ignored, especially at a time when students and faculty alike need a solution to a model of higher education system that is no longer viable.
This strike can be the last of its kind. It has the potential to be the final bargaining chip in the game that Reed and the CFA have been playing. It is up to Reed and the CSU administration to make it so.