California State University (CSU) faculty will receive a 10.5 percent salary increase over the next three years if their tentative agreement is approved the CSU Board of Trustees and California Faculty Association (CFA) Board and members.
In addition to the 10.5 percent increase in general salary over three years, the agreement also provides an additional 2.65 percent for faculty who are eligible for the SSI, or service salary increase, in the third year.
It also doubled the amount of time needed for faculty hired in Fall 2017 and on to get retiree health benefits — from five years to 10 years.
The next significant aspect — there are several important smaller aspects as well, according to CSU Chancellor Timothy White — is that when a faculty member is promoted from assistant professor to associate and from associate to full professor, the minimum salary increase for those merit-based adjustments has risen from 7.5 percent to 9 percent.
The 10.5 percent general salary increase will be distributed over the three years as follows:
- 5 percent will be implemented at the end of this budget year on June 30, 2016
- 2 percent will be implemented at the beginning of the next budget year on July 1, 2016
- 3.5 percent will be implemented beginning on July 1, 2017
- The 2.65 percent increase in additional benefits will be distributed throughout the third year to eligible faculty based on their hiring date
White said he “couldn’t be happier” that an agreement was reached, and CFA President Jennifer Eagan agreed.
“I think this agreement represents compromise on both sides, and a commitment to economic security and stability for faculty moving forward,” Eagan said.
White was present at the CFA-CSU discussions for the first time this past Wednesday, when the CFA put strike preparations on hold to resume salary negotiations. The two entities announced their agreement Thursday, when the proposed five-day strike was postponed.
White called the agreement a “innovative and creative solution” crafted by the CFA and CSU bargaining teams. He said that the team was able to “crack the Rubik’s cube” with their compromise.
“It was the addition of time in the agreement that was an instrumental aspect of our discussion that created a new environment for us to find a solution together,” said White. “With the multiple-year solution, we could see our way through it from the financial point of view that I’m responsible for, and the CFA could see their way through it in a way of getting it as soon as humanly possible more resources in the purses and pockets of our faculty.”
The CFA was poised and ready to strike if the agreement wasn’t reached because, according to Eagan, they were responding to a crisis.
“Most of us are not radical, and all this militant activity is not what we really want to be doing,” Eagan said. “It was truly a reflection of the economic crisis that our membership is experiencing and their insistence that CFA fight back on their behalf in ways that show that we recognize what they and their families were going through.”
Eagan said she recognizes that this agreement isn’t an immediate fix for faculty members’ issues, but it will certainly help.
“This agreement will not make faculty rich or end all our economic problems, but it will alter the course of our relationship with the chancellor and send a huge signal that we can function as a team,” Eagan said. “With this agreement, we are creating more economic stability for faculty so that they can do their jobs and focus on students.”
The problems faced by CSU faculty and staff didn’t crop up overnight, White said. They were caused by a combination of systematic issues that developed over years.
“When you think about it, this took multiple years to develop, with the recession,” White said. “And even before the recession, California has not been properly investing in this magnificent organization. It has to take multiple years to dig out, and it takes a commitment from all of us.”
This agreement has been a work in progress for more than a year, White said. Next, it needs to be ratified by the CFA Board and members, then by the CSU Board of Trustees at its meeting in May.
However, it isn’t guaranteed that the CFA’s membership will ratify the agreement, nor the board of trustees. Graham Archer, president of San Luis Obispo’s chapter of CFA, said that the faculty and staff are still prepared to strike in Fall 2016 if the agreement is not reached.
“If the tentative agreement is not successful … we’re absolutely ready to strike in the fall,” Archer said. “The reason it’s the fall and not this quarter is that there are far more campuses that are semester. And so by the 6th of May, they’re virtually done.”
Despite this possibility, White and Eagan said they think the agreement will be ratified. They agreed that their compromise is beneficial to all, and will set a precedent for future conflicts.
“The time that we are at our best is when difficult things are approached together, debated, thought through, analyzed, people are willing to be persuaded and to persuade,” White said. “But once we get to a decision, (we must) move forward with that decision.”