The California State University (CSU) budget is creating conflict between the California Faculty Association (CFA) and the Chancellor’s office because of proposed furloughs. The furloughs would require all CSU employees to have 24 unpaid workdays, the equivalent of a 10-percent pay decrease.
The CSU system is estimating a $584 million deficit and is trying to compensate. The actual number will change depending on the final state budget approved by Governor Schwarzenegger.
The CFA issued an open letter to faculty Wednesday criticizing how the chancellor has handled the budget crisis and the press release about the proposed furloughs.
“We find the message in the release profoundly disrespectful, particularly given CFA’s serious efforts to find ways to preserve classes for our students and jobs for our faculty. Even more disturbing than the press release itself, the manner in which the Chancellor has dealt with this furlough issue — and indeed the entire CSU budget crisis — demonstrates a shocking lack of leadership.”
Eric Fallis, a representative from the chancellor’s office, said furloughs would be an effective budget measure since salaries comprise 80 percent of the CSU budget.
Alice Sunshine, the communication director for the CFA, said the chancellor’s office originally told them furloughs would be a way to protect faculty from layoffs but has not promised to save any jobs if the union passes the furlough.
“I think the CFA officers feel they have not been taken seriously,” Sunshine said. “They won’t promise a single person will be saved.”
The 10-percent pay decrease would apply to the chancellor and other administrators, but Sunshine said that is not good enough. “A lecturer giving up two days a month is much different than a $300,000 executive,” she said.
One of the other criticisms the CFA letter listed was the lack of other options being discussed. Fallis added that it is important for the unions to indicate they are interested in discussing the option because until the furlough issue is resolved no other methods to decrease the budget will be finalized.
“There are a great number of options being discussed,” Fallis said. “Layoffs are part of every union agreement and certainly an option for the CSU.” Fallis added that another student fee increase might be considered.
“If the CSU system and the unions agree to the furloughs, that will help close some of (Cal Poly’s) $34 million (deficit), if that money turns out to be the number by which the state reduces funding to Cal Poly,” said Chip Visci, Cal Poly associate vice president of strategic communications.
President Baker has imposed a hiring freeze on non-faculty positions and the provost is carefully reviewing proposed faculty hires.
Class availability will remain Cal Poly’s top priority, said university provost Robert Koob.
“We try to make courses required for graduation available to everyone, particularly the incoming class,” Koob said. “But we don’t know if we will be able to staff all of them if we have a severe budget cut, that’s the problem.”