After two weeks of voting, the California Faculty Association will reveal tomorrow morning whether the faculty has authorized a potential strike if no agreement is struck in their on-going contract negotiations with the California State University.
More than 500 SF State faculty members are represented by the union, which represents more than 24,000 CSU faculty, and has been working without a new contract since June 2010. Their former contract has been put on hold until a new contract is negotiated. The results of the strike authorization will be announced at noon in the Cesar Chavez Student Center.
“We think the strike vote is premature since we’re still in the middle of negotiations,” said Erik Fallis, CSU spokesman. “We’re working to come to an agreement but there are still a limited number of issues that separate the two sides.” According to Fallis, the CFA bargaining team is scheduled to meet with the CSU bargaining team Thursday to continue negotiating.
If the parties do not reach an agreement, the CFA Board of Directors will call for a rolling two-day strike at each of the 23 CSU campuses. This means that each campus would go on strike for two days on different dates. This would continue until each campus has participated.
“All we want is a fair contract,” said Sheila Tully, vice president of the SF State chapter of the CFA. “We’ve been working without a contract for 22 months. For most unions, that’s unheard of. It really indicates a dysfunctional bargaining approach.”
A vote to authorize the strike does not necessarily mean one will take place.
The final step in negotiating before a strike is implemented is fact-finding. The fact-finder is a neutral party chosen by the Public Relations Board who listens to facts from both sides and makes suggestions on how to reach an agreement.
The CFA cannot legally strike until after the negotiation process has ended and the fact-finder makes a decision. After fact-finding, the chancellor can impose what is called the last, best and final offer. If an agreement has still not been reached by this point, the CFA will be able to strike. There is no set date at this point for a strike.
“I obviously don’t want the faculty to go on strike, but I trust their judgment,” said Jessica Rondez, a psychology major. “If teachers aren’t being treated fairly by the CSU, they should take whatever action they think is necessary.”
CSU management has proposed a contract that would maintain salaries at current levels, which have not changed since 2008. They have proposed to reopen the discussion to potentially reduce the salary and faculty benefits through the 2012-2013 school year.
The CSU is also pushing for no limits on class sizes, more course offerings during summer sessions and an increase in online class offerings. In addition, the proposal calls for an extra review before a temporary faculty member can become permanent.
The CFA has proposed a 1 percent salary increase through the 2013-2014 academic year, academic freedom in the classroom, the right to determine class sizes and job stability and tenure for temporary faculty members.
“I don’t want large classes where the instruction suffers,” said SF State professor and CFA member Phil Klasky. “I also don’t want more online classes or for public universities to become a for-profit institutions. Unfortunately, that’s the direction we’re heading.”
According to the CSU website, the CFA proposals will cost the state a minimum of $504.1 million.
“Without us, there is no university,” Tully said. “We’re the educators. We don’t need the administrators telling us what works in the classroom.”
Members of the CFA are still currently awaiting salary increases and benefits for the 2008-2009 school years. In November, faculty members at CSU East Bay and CSU Dominguez Hills went on strike because of these unfulfilled pay raises.