CSU Faculty Gears Up for Strike Vote at 23 Campuses

Students participate in an art class at CSU Dominguez Hills. (Parker Knight/Flickr)

California State University faculty members are gearing up for a strike vote on Monday. Labor leaders say possible job actions would not happen until early next year.

The 23-campus system got an additional $97 million in state funding for 2015-2016, thanks in part to intense lobbying efforts by students and faculty.

The additional funding, however, has resulted in a major labor dispute between the California Faculty Association and CSU management.

Faculty members are demanding a 5 percent salary increase with an additional 2.65 percent for faculty at the lowest end of the pay scale. CSU officials are refusing to provide those increases, and instead are offering a 2 percent across-the-board pay hike.

Both sides have deadlocked on the issue despite mediation last week.

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The next phase of negotiation is a fact-finding mission in an attempt to strike a financial compromise, a phase expected to take a few months.

Faculty union leaders say any kind of job action -- either one-day strikes or rolling strikes across all campuses -- will not likely happen until early 2016.

Jennifer Eagan, president of the California Faculty Association, says CSU has been chronically underfunding salaries, and any increase in state funding to the system should go toward instruction.

“The number of tenure-line faculty has decreased by 3 percent, even though the numbers of students have gone up,” Eagan says. “The number of administrators has gone up by 19 percent. So we have fewer faculty and more managers.”

Eagan and other labor leaders also cite data that show some public school teachers in certain parts of California are actually making more money than some CSU faculty members.

CSU administration officials say the 2 percent increase is as much as they can afford, given all the competing interests such as hiring new faculty, technology and facility upgrades, and better student services.

The Chancellor's Office also argues that the additional $97 million was never meant for faculty raises.

“That extra $97 million was designated to improve the number of students that we could accept in our system,” says Laurie Weidner, CSU assistant vice chancellor of public affairs. “We were able to accept 2 percent more students, which is approximately 12,300 more transfer students and more students across the state because of that funding.”

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