CFA to begin voting Monday on a series of rolling strikes

The California Faculty Association will begin voting Monday to approve or reject a chain of rolling strikes that could take place in the fall.

The possible strike is the result of unresolved contract negotiations between the CFA and the California State University that have taken place over the last 22 months. Over 500 SF State faculty members are a part of the CFA, which represents over 24,000 employees across the 23 CSU campuses. Although the CFA’s current contract expired in June 2010, its terms and conditions are on hold until they can agree on a new contract.

“A strike vote is a very serious thing, but it’s not anything imminent,” said Sheila Tully, vice president of the SF State chapter of the CFA. “We are hoping there will be a fair settlement, but we can’t strike until the fact-finder makes a decision.”

The fact-finder is a neutral person chosen by the Public Employee Relations Board to listen to both sides and make suggestions on how to come to an agreement. Fact-finding is the final step in negotiating and will happen after the CFA’s strike vote this month.

“The purpose of a strike vote is to show the CSU that we have strong support for what we’re trying to achieve,” said SF State professor and CFA member Phil Klasky. “I don’t want a strike, but the CSU management is making it impossible for me to continue doing my job at its current level. We have not had a contract since 2010 and we have gone to the bargaining table time and time again and they will not negotiate with us.”

If both sides are still unable to come to an agreement, CFA will implement a two-day rolling strike, which means that every two days CFA members from one CSU campus will go on strike. After striking for two days, those CFA members will return to work and CFA members from a different CSU campus will go on strike. This would continue until an agreement on a contract is reached.

“Even though the strike would mean we wouldn’t have classes for a couple of days, I’m all for it,” said Jessica Cisneros, a kinesiology major. “ I think [the faculty] should be able to fight for whatever they think they need from the CSU.”

CSU management is proposing a contract that would maintain salaries at current levels with benefit reopeners. This would reopen the discussion to potentially reduce faculty benefits and salaries for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years. The proposed contract also suggests an increase in class sizes, an increase in course offerings during summer sessions and an increase the availability of online classes.

“What we’re asking for are things that we think would either protect assets for students or insure quality instruction,” said CSU Media Relations Manager Erik Fallis. “At this point, there is nothing definitive. The CSU is still trying to work with the CFA to come to an agreement.”

The CFA proposes one percent general salary increase for the 2011-2012, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years. The CSU website states that the proposals from the CFA will cost a minimum of $504.1 million.

“At this point, it’s very hard to say when a strike will happen if we decide to do it,” said Tully. “If we were to go out on strike, we would want to do it at a time that was strategic for us. Faculty at SF State are clear that we don’t want to do anything that will significantly harm our students.”

CFA members can vote starting Monday, April 16 at noon in the Cesar Chavez Student Center on the plaza level. Voting will continue until Friday, April 27 opening each day at 9 a.m. Members can also vote online.