Ryan Chartrand

After two years of negotiations and a decision to strike if necessary, the California State University and the California Faculty Association finally settled on a tentative agreement Tuesday afternoon on a 20.7 percent increase for all faculty members over a four-year period.

The decision came in the midst of a 10-day negotiation period, scheduled to end on Friday, after a fact finder worked with both parties to offer a solution.

“This is very close to what the fact finder had recommended,” said Richard Saenz, the president for the Cal Poly CFA chapter and a physics professor.

In addition to the 20.7 percent general salary increase, an extra $28 million will be provided as merit and equity raises for senior faculty members who have reached the top of the pay scale and for junior faculty members as well.

“I thought it was great. It’s not everything we wanted, but it’s pretty close,” Saenz said. “Between what the fact finder said and (the faculty voting to go) on strike, it was in the university’s best interest to settle.”

In the week of March 12 to 16, Saenz said that 94 percent of Cal Poly CFA members voted to strike, which corresponded almost exactly to the statewide results.

The salary increases would boost the average salary for a tenure-track faculty member from $74,000 to $90,749, according to a CSU press release. For a full-time, tenured professor, their salary would jump from $86,000 to $105,465 by the end of the four-year period.

“I don’t know for certain, but I’m hoping that everyone is happy with it,” said Albert Liddicoat, the interim assistant vice president for Academic Personnel. “From my perspective, Cal Poly wasn’t any more vocal than any of the other campuses. I feel they understood the situation.”

Members of the CFA previously argued that they were paid 18 percent less than faculty members of comparable institutions around the country. Though the proposed increase will not close the gap completely, Saenz said it would help.

“It probably, over the course of four years, will (close the gap), but in that time, other people will be getting raises,” he said.

But some faculty members received the result with heed.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Brian Kennelly, a CFA member and the chair of the modern languages and literatures department. “Until it’s final, it’s not really official. There are a lot of people struggling to make ends meet, myself included.”

Kennelly, who moved to the Central Coast about a year ago from St. Louis, Mo., said that with his salary, he struggles with the cost of gas to get to work.

“I teach in the College of Liberal Arts – we’re not paid a fraction of what people in other colleges are paid,” Kennelly said. “Every piece of (the increase) helps me, but it will help people in other colleges more.”

In accordance with the fact finder’s recommendations, the CSU will also implement a salary structure committee to analyze faculty compensation issues and to keep faculty parking fees in proportion with the salary increases throughout the next four years.

The tentative agreement must be ratified by the CFA, then approved by the CSU Board of Trustees in order to come into effect.

“It’s in the right direction, but we’re not there yet,” Kennelly said.

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