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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Faculty and students unpleased with CFA-CSU tentative agreement

SFSU faculty and students weigh in on the tentative agreement made on Monday evening
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Dan Hernandez
David Steel (center), a CFA field representative chants through a mega horn on the picket line on W. Loop Road on the CSU East Bay campus in Hayward, Calif. on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. (Dan Hernandez / Golden Gate Xpress)

Faculty say they were caught off guard by the tentative agreement made on Monday between the California Faculty Association and the California State University, according to interviews conducted by Golden Gate Xpress.

When Dr. Candace Low, CFA-SFSU lecturer faculty representative for biology, received the email from the board about the tentative agreement on Monday, she said she was shocked.

“You know when you’re not sure if your mind is playing tricks on you? That’s how it felt,” Low said. “The way it was presented with the subject line having three exclamation marks and this sort of exuberance, I felt like somebody was trying to sell me something that wasn’t really what it was.” 

The email to members late Monday evening follows one day of picketing across all 23 CSU campuses, ending the largest university strike in U.S. history early. The strike was planned to run through Jan. 26 –five days in total.

“I personally was very disappointed,” said James Martel, a political science professor at San Francisco State University. “I thought that if we had been able to continue to strike, we would have gotten a much better contract.”

Martel and other faculty from SFSU and other campuses were present at Cal State East Bay on Monday to participate in the system-wide strike. 

“There was joy and determination and support, all of these great things,” Martel said about the energy of those who joined the picket line that morning. “We were ready to go all week, and that’s one of the reasons we feel let down.” 

For faculty, the most notable highlight in the tentative agreement is the 5% salary increase for all faculty members retroactive to July 1, 2023, along with the 5% raise for all faculty on July 1, 2024, which is contingent on the state not reducing base funding to the CSU. These two raises will increase current salaries by 10.25%. The CFA originally pursued a 12% wage increase to meet the cost of living and inflation.

According to Low, the main thing she and other union members were fighting for was a livable wage and not just a few extra percentage increases, making this offer empty.

“The decision was made after the first day of striking when emotions are high,” Low said. “You don’t make decisions in those kinds of situations. You want to gather your evidence and meet with the rest of the faculty. This was made on a whim and without thought.”

One of the other highlights was that the salary floor of the lowest-paid faculty in the salary range A, which is currently $54,360, and range B, which is currently $64,860, will be raised by $3,000, retroactive to July 1, 2023. Faculty in salary range A will receive another $3000 increase on July 1, 2024. The CFA originally wanted a $10,000 increase for lecturers in range A and a $5000 increase for range B.

“It’s important to know that there is a meaningful raise happening for the lowest paid lecturer faculty as part of this agreement,” said Will Clark, a professor for the English Department. “But here at SF State, a lot of people lost their jobs this semester [from that category] and that’s fewer people that can benefit from this.”

Rose Lacy, CFA-SFSU lecturer faculty representative for chemistry and biochemistry, doesn’t believe this salary floor increase is enough. Lacy is currently a little above range A but isn’t sure if she’ll benefit from it because she is not at the “absolute bottom.” 

“They’re [CFA leadership] talking about this as a super win for raising the floor, when they barely crawled out of the grave with this thing,” Lacy said. “The only reason I can afford rent is with the help of my partner and children. This is not close to a living wage.” 

Mira Foster, a CFA-SFSU librarian tenure faculty representative, believes that the bargaining process moving forward will be unclear in the upcoming days.

“I think we will have many situations throughout this semester where we will ask for meetings and CSU won’t speak to us,” Foster said.

Clark says he feels demoralized by the tentative agreement, especially after the past year at SFSU, which saw class cuts and layoffs.

“A lot of our department chairs have worked really hard to protect everybody and that’s all behind the scenes,” Clark said. “Preparing for a strike was energizing and to have it disappear very suddenly is demoralizing, too.”

When the news broke on social media, multiple students expressed disappointment in the CFA and CSU’s decision to reach a tentative agreement so quickly.

“It’s heartbreaking for me as a future educator and as a student of some of these amazing professors to know that this is the outcome and that so many professors aren’t happy with it,” said Rhiannon Moreno, a senior at Cal Poly Pomona.

Maddux Eckerling, a first-year student at SFSU, believes this sets a bad precedent for the upcoming CSU Employees Union election, where eligible student assistants will vote on joining that union.

“If CFA actually votes yes on the agreement they made, it sets a really bad precedent,” said Eckerling, who’s with the student workers union as an organizer for SFSU. “This is going to make bargaining for us [student assistants] a real challenge.”

According to CFA-SFSU’s press release, a rally to continue union momentum will be held on Thursday, Jan. 25, at noon at Malcolm X Plaza. Students, faculty, and guest speakers will attend.

“The CSU are bullies,” Martel said. “We have to stand up to them, and we’ll continue to do so.”

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About the Contributors
Gabriela Calvillo Alvarez, Breaking News Editor
Gabriela Calvillo Alvarez (she/they) is breaking news editor for Golden Gate Xpress. She is double majoring in journalism and political science, two passions she holds near to her heart. Growing up in the East Bay, Gabriela graduated from Washington High School, where she wrote and was news editor on the award-winning school newspaper, The Hatchet. She also participated in The Stanford Daily Summer Internship in 2020. During their spare time, Gabriela enjoys going out with friends, attending concerts and learning new things. 
Dan Hernandez, Visuals Editor
Dan Hernandez (he/him) is the Visuals Editor for Golden Gate Xpress, majoring in journalism and minoring in business administration. He is an award-winning multimedia journalist, applying his skills in both news reporting and press photography. He got his start in journalism at 15 years old as a staff writer for The Advocate at Contra Costa College before becoming editor-in-chief as a high school senior. Outside of journalism, he is probably camping on a road trip, playing water polo, riding his bike or dancing at concerts. He also goes by the nickname “Biscuit.”

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