Many Cal Poly faculty members may soon strike alongside faculty at the California State University system’s 22 other campuses. The California Faculty Association voted for its first ever strike on Wednesday as a result of almost two years of stalled negotiations between the union and CSU system over faculty salary increases.
By state law, a “fact finding” committee has been meeting over the last week in one last attempt to reach an agreement. If by Sunday no agreement is made, the CFA will impose rolling two-day strikes across the CSU campuses. Faculty choosing to strike would have to take a two-day leave without pay.
Regardless of whether the strike occurs, the CSU Board of Trustees has offered a 4 percent increase to its faculty’s salaries, retroactive July 1, 2006. The increase will last until July 1, 2007 when new negotiations will begin for the next four years.
Michael Suess, the associate vice president for academic personnel, said that he doubts the strikes would have a big impact on Cal Poly.
“I don’t think that we would even have 5 percent of our own faculty agree to have a doc in pay for two days,” Suess said.
Of the 8,129 CSU faculty members who voted, 94 percent voted in favor the strike. However, only about 40 percent of all CSU faculty members are eligible to vote in the CFA. Of Cal Poly’s 1,200 faculty, only about 32 percent are voting members in the union. Although some classes may be canceled if the strike occurs, Cal Poly President Warren Baker doesn’t see it seriously affecting the university.
“I think that, fundamentally, the faculty are not going to do something that will be a disadvantage for the students,” Baker said. He added that although there is still a 13 percent salary gap between CSU schools and other comparable universities, Cal Poly offers better benefits and retirement programs than others.
The main issue over the stalled negotiation concerns the overall salary increase for faculty over the next five years. The CSU Board of Trustees has offered a 25 percent increase for all faculty but the CFA is looking for about 30 percent.
“By Sunday, March 25, we will know whether we have an agreement or not. When the fact finding report is made public, it will be clear that the university administration has gone to great lengths to come to a settlement with the faculty union and avoid the alternative, which would be imposition,” said CSU Chancellor Charles Reed in a statement Wednesday.
The fact finding committee is composed of three people: one from the CSU, one from the CFA and one neutral. They will release their recommendations on how to resolve the situation on Sunday, at which time the CFA will ultimately decide whether to announce its rolling strikes.
Associate Cal Poly professors currently have salaries that range from $59,000 to $93,000. With this year’s 4 percent raise, they could see an extra $2,360 to $3,720 hit their bank accounts by summer.