Dressed in bright red shirts reading, “I don’t want to strike but I will,” SF State faculty, students, and staff rallied in support for higher wages during the California Faculty Association’s Fight for Five campaign Tuesday.
The picket was organized by faculty across all 23 California State University campuses to show solidarity with the CSU faculty who rallied at the CSU Chancellor’s office in Long Beach the same day, according to the CFA website. CSU faculty used the demonstration as a way to show CSU Chancellor Timothy White their commitment to fighting for what they believe is a fair 5 percent raise in salary, instead of the proposed 2 percent.
Marching to the steady beat of African bongo drums at the corner of 19th and Holloway avenues, SF State picketers chanted “2 percent isn’t fair! All we want is our fair share!”
CSU faculty believe that the statewide show of support for them sends a clear message to CSU administration that they are serious and will not back down from their demands, said Latino and Latina studies department Chair Alejandro Murguia. CSU administrators do not hesitate to give themselves raises, while faculty struggle to get by on low salaries, he said.
“The backbone of the CSU system is the faculty,” Murguia said. “They’re the ones on the ground, in the trenches, teaching our students. The trustees, the chancellors and the presidents of the universities always have the money to give themselves raises every single year, no matter what the conditions of the campuses are, no matter how low the enrollment is, no matter all the problems (faculty and students) are suffering – they always find the money to pad their own checkbook.”
Faculty feel that the Chancellor’s priorities are misplaced and as a result its negatively impacting the working and learning conditions for students and teachers, said SF State CFA chapter president Sheila Tully.
“The chancellor makes $422,000. He makes more than Obama,” Tully said. “His priorities are misplaced at the bargaining table. He’s not saying it’s budgetary, he’s simply saying that (administration) have other priorities. We think faculty are the heart and soul of the university; without us you don’t have a university.”
CSU faculty who could not travel to Long Beach also showed their support by attending “watch parties” where they viewed a live stream of the rally and march outside the Chancellor’s office, the CFA website said.
The Nov. 17 session is one of the six yearly meetings where the board of trustees discuss issues concerning the CSU system, such as educational policy, finance, organizational rules and, most prominently, collective bargaining, according to the CSU website.
“The California State University values its employees and continues to prioritize compensation while also addressing other areas that support student success,” said CSU Director of Public Affairs Toni Molle. “CSU proposed a 2 percent salary increase for all faculty consistent with the budget request approved by the Board of Trustees for 2015-2016 and ultimately funded by the governor and legislature. The CSU remains committed to the collective bargaining process and achieving negotiated agreement with the California Faculty Association.”
Faculty voted 94.4 percent in favor Nov. 4 of authorizing job actions such as work slowdowns or a full strike. Contract negotiations are currently in the fact-finding stage, during which both CSU faculty and administrators present their case to a neutral panel that compiles information from both sides to create a settlement beneficial to both parties, according to CFA.