From Oct. 19-29, faculty members at the 23 California State University (CSU) campuses will be voting on whether to permit their labor union to call a strike.
The vote called by the California Faculty Association (CFA) is in response to stalled salary negotiations with the CSU system. Faculty will decide on the issue of authorizing a strike or other protests if the contract talks remain unsuccessful.
CSU faculty statewide are asking administrators for a 5 percent salary increase along with a 2.7 percent pay bump based on years of service. The university is offering raises of 2 percent.
“Think of it as a cost of living increase in place of inflation,” CFA SLO chapter president Graham Archer said. “The 5 percent is a very small amount that we’re asking for. I think the true deficit is closer to 20-24 percent.”
The CFA represents more than 25,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches. The union has been negotiating with the Cal State system since May on the pay raises union members will get this year.
The union is in the second year of a three-year contract with the CSU. The contract reopened for the CSU administration and the union to discuss pay raises in May, but negotiations completely collapsed by July. The process went to mediation, which ended a few weeks ago without resolve.
“The administration is showing that they have absolutely no interest in paying us even close to what we think we deserve,” said Archer. “That leaves us with very few options — and a strike is one of them.”
No dates have been set for a possible walkout, and the earliest that one would happen is in January.
According to a recent press release, CSU spokesperson Toni Molle said that the raises the union is seeking would cost $69 million more than has been budgeted. The money has already been pledged to hiring more faculty and increasing enrollment and graduation rates.
If the vote passes in favor of the strike, the worst-case scenario would be that all 23 campuses shut down and faculty refuse to go back to work until the issue is resolved.
“To be honest, that’s the opposite of what a faculty member would want,” Archer said. “We’re here to teach and we would be essentially withholding our labor. But that’s really what it seems to be coming down to.”