Update: Fact finder sides with CFA weeks before state-wide strike

The California Faculty Association announced Monday a third-party fact finder largely sided with the union in their dispute with the California State University over a 5 percent raise. The report was made public today, weeks before the planned CSU-wide strike.

“The recession severely impacted the faculty at CSU, and while some progress has been made to restore the loss or competitive salaries with negotiated targeted increases, the faculty are still suffering from structural salary issues,” Bonnie Prouty Castrey, who chaired the independent panel, wrote in her report.

Four recommendations surfaced from this report, including a 5 percent general salary increase to all faculty and a 2.65 percent service salary increase for the roughly 43 percent of faculty at the lower end of the salary structure.

The fact finder’s report was made public Monday following a 10-day blackout period. During the blackout period, both sides were given time to meet and confer over the fact finder’s recommendation.

“The union has been ready and willing to meet with management for the last 10 days,” said Kevin Wehr, chair of CFA’s bargaining team. “Despite our overtures, they were not willing to meet to discuss the implementations of the fact finder’s recommendations.”

The largest disagreement came from the conclusion that the University does not have the funds to meet the CFA’s demands. The report suggests that the University should reallocate funds from other unspecified projects and delay implementation.

“They actually have structural surplus,” Wehr said. “They have a positive cash flow – they’re actively putting money in reserves. That means they have more money than they know what to do with. That’s not a structural deficit.”

CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White repudiated those claims.

“If we redirected money, it would hurt students,” White told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We’d have to decrease classes, lay off (lecturers) teaching those classes, and decrease student support services and advisers. Neither the fact-finder nor the faculty union has indicated which of those student-focused efforts we should cut.”

Two other recommendations were made from the fact finder including “to develop a joint list of comparable universities that award bachelor and master’s degrees and do a comparison using the available AAUP data and including a cost of living comparison. Develop a joint strategy and documentation to go to the California Legislature and Governor in order to enhance the CSU budget,” according to the report.

Following the meeting, questions opened up and a reporter asked what is to follow if the strike is ineffective.

“In terms of what to happen after the strike, if on April 20, management has not moved, we will make a plan to continue concerted action,” said Jennifer Eagan, President of CFA. “We are legal to continue concerted action, potentially more strikes, for as long as it takes until we reach a settlement, and faculty will be prepared to see that.”

The issue of a raise was reopened May 1 of last year, followed by a bargaining period that began in July. Both parties had three meetings and then negotiated. The CSU offered the CFA a 2 percent raise, but the CFA held fast to its demand for a 5 percent raise.

“Faculty on average earn $45,000 per year, largely because two-thirds are non-tenured, part-time, temporary lectures,” SF State CFA President Sheila Tully previously told the Golden Gate Xpress. “Faculty have not received a significant general salary increase in nearly a decade. We have actually lost money over that time, because a promised 11 percent raise in 2006 was cancelled and a 9.3 percent furlough pay cut was instituted in 2009.”

White is scheduled to visit SF State April 5.

If the strike does occur, it will be the first system-wide strike in CSU history.

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