California Faculty Association to strike over contract dispute

Negotiations over the California Faculty Association’s current contract, which is still in effect from 2007, is still in heavy bargaining stages between the faculty union and the California State University system due to disputes regarding pay raises.

The CFA made an announcement Monday that the Board of Directors decided to continue with a one-day strike if negotiations do not come to a conclusion soon, as the 2007-2008 academic year contract will not be extended any longer.

Along with the disparity in wages between faculty and members of the administration, union members have become upset about salary negotiations offered to them. The CFA says that its members’ wages are not meeting the cost of living, while the administration’s wages keep increasing.

“All of us who voted yes did so because we understand that we must now send the chancellor a plain and simple message about his skewed priorities,” said CFA President Lillian Taiz in a statement to the board yesterday.

The union is also upset about a new change to the process of the selection of a college president that would allow someone to be chosen without having to visit the campus they may end up running.

The CSU has made several operational changes in lieu of pay increases to save money and benefit the faculty, according to CSU spokesman Erik Fallis. Changes include treating summer semester classes like extended learning to provide flexibility and changing the evaluation process for faculty.

The last negotiated pay increase was scheduled to be a 4 percent raise for the 2009-2010 school year, effective July 1, 2009. However, the increase was reconsidered because the CSU system did not receive sufficient funding. The CSU cited the contract’s allowance of modifications to be made in times of economic hardships as its reason for denying raises.

Recently, Chancellor Charles B. Reed rejected the recommendations of fact-finders, neutral third-party participants selected by both the CSU and the CFA, to increase faculty salary based on the current funds available to the CSU. This is the second time Reed rejected such recommendations.

“There is simply no money,” Fallis said, adding that the CSU is shocked by the demands made by the CFA. “We’re very surprised. The CFA was on board with furloughs and then they turn around and demand $20 million.”

Faculty said that they are tired of being uncertain.

“Everything’s been pushed back and it’s very frustrating,” said Wei Ming Dariotis, the CFA SF State chapter president.

Dariotis hopes that the informational picketing, as well as the strike will call more attention to the problems that faculty and staff are facing.

“We’re trying to call attention to the issue,” Dariotis said. “We’re trying to be educators. Apparently in order to do our job we we have to educate not only the administration, but also the population of California and let them know that there’s a problem. The purpose of the 17th is to make some noise and let the chancellor’s office know, let the board of trustees know that all is not well. Let the legislators know that all is not well here, please pay attention to what’s going on. It’s a cry for help.”

Informational picketing events took place Tuesday on some of the 23 CSU campuses in advance of next week’s strike.