Faculty at Cal Poly protest during contract negotiations in 2011. The California Faculty received for this academic year its first salary raise in six years.
The California Faculty Association (CFA) and California State University (CSU) amended their Collective Bargaining Agreement on Aug. 26, raising faculty’s pay for the first time in six years.
The CSU awarded approximately $19 million for the CFA to split evenly among all full-time employees, including tenure-track professors, lecturers, librarians, coaches and counselors.
Part-time lecturers were awarded raises based on their workload, Glen Thorncroft, a CFA representative and Cal Poly mechanical engineering professor said.
“The CFA was pleased at the relative smoothness of this bargaining process,” Thorncroft said. “We feel pretty good about the way the chancellor handled the bargaining.”
Negotiations took approximately two or three months because both sides had similar expectations, CSU Director of Media Relations Mike Uhlenkamp said.
California’s education system received $125 million from taxpayers thanks to the voter-approved tax created by Proposition 30. Other government organizations like the CSU Employees Union, which represents staff in the system, will also receive money to compensate teachers.
“If you look at our budgets over the last several years, we’ve always been cut,” Uhlenkamp said. “This year we received an increase, so we’re putting some of those resources towards (hiring personnel) resources.”
While $19 million might sound like a lot of money, each full-time teacher will receive around a $960 annual raise — less than 1 percent for nearly all faculty.
Professors have not received raises since 2007, when the Great Recession began. As inflation has occurred over time, the dollar value of their salaries has weakened.
CSU Chancellor Timothy White originally proposed trimming the professors’ fully state-funded health care, which angered many CFA members, Thorncroft said.
While most state employees pay for at least 10 percent of their health care, the CSU pays for all faculty’s medical bills and 90 percent of their dependents’.
White originally wanted to give faculty bigger raises while slashing health benefits, Thorncroft said, which would have resulted in a net pay decrease. The plan was quickly abandoned, but it sent a message to union leaders.
“We feel, at the CFA, that is a shot across the bow,” Thorncroft said. “Other state employees pay 10 percent of the health bill, but they also have these other raises we don’t get.”
The CSU has been bleeding money for years, and has a $335 million deficit despite substantial tuition increases, Uhlenkamp said. Paying 100 percent of faculty health care takes a toll on the state budget.
“We are having to turn away students, or we’re having to cut services, or we’re having to do things because we’re not able to operate,” Uhlenkamp said. “We have overturned every single rock to find ways to save money.”
The CFA and CSU’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, which runs from October 2012 to June 2014, allows both sides to reopen salary discussions at any time.
If the CSU proposes docking health care in further negotiations, the CFA will respond with a similarly hard-and-fast stance, Thorncroft said.
“The CFA will represent the faculty view, and the faculty view is ‘no way,’” he said. “I think the faculty would really feel nickel and dimed if that were to happen.”
The CFA wants to see the state compensate professors without cuts to other areas, Thorncroft said.
“It would be one hell of a thing to give the faculty a raise with one hand, and then literally take away our pay on the other hand by saying, ‘We’re going to dump a bill on you,'” he said.
Uhlenkamp said though California has a tight budget, the state is invested in higher public education.
“(The lack of funds is) a reflection of the state of California and the United States,” Uhlenkamp said. “We made the determination to defer some of that towards compensation increases for our employees.”
White’s bargaining team’s focus on education made negotiating easy, CFA Director of Representation Kathy Sheffield said.
“We’re really hopeful with the new chancellor that we see a commitment to bargaining fairly,” she said.
All members of the faculty will receive the same raise without consideration to tenure. Most distributions are percentage-based, Sheffield said.
Professors who began after 2007 have yet to receive a raise of any kind, so the CSU is giving them a greater percentage increase than more established teachers, Thorncroft said.
“People on the low end of the salary range have really been suffering,” he said. “So they got a slightly bigger percentage raise.”
The two sides met for three days in July, two days in August and spent a few more hours wrapping up the agreement through a conference call.
Most of the discussion revolved around whether to pay full-time faculty a flat rate or an increase based on tenure.
“We wanted something that would more fairly distribute the money to all of our members,” Sheffield said. “So we spent a lot of time talking about that.”