Brennan Angel

Cal Poly faculty will finish voting today on whether or not to authorize a two-day strike that would likely take place next month.

Results of the vote from all California State University campuses will be announced on Wednesday.

The strike vote stems from the failure of the California Faculty Association and CSU Administration to reach a consensus on a new faculty labor agreement, which has been in negotiations for nearly two years.

The CFA hopes the threat of a strike will force the administration to come to a settlement.

“Part of the strategy for having this vote is to bring both sides back to the negotiating table,” said Richard Saenz, physics professor and president of the CFA’s Cal Poly chapter. “As long as we’re negotiating, no one is going to strike.”

If the strike is authorized and implemented, faculty from CSU campuses across the state would participate in rolling two-day walkouts, likely throughout April. Separating the strikes would lengthen the process, Saenz said, hopefully creating more publicity for the faculty’s cause. The tactic would also have the least impact on students, he said.

Faculty would only strike as a last resort, Saenz said.

“Strikes don’t do anyone any good,” he said. “Students lose class, faculty lose money and the school gets bad publicity. But sometimes it’s necessary.”

A third party fact-finder is expected to finish a report in the coming days offering recommendations on reaching a settlement. The recommendations, which are nonbinding, will be made public later this month.

According to an official organization pamphlet, the CFA is seeking a 25.75 percent raise in salary over the next four years, including the current year. While the administration’s proposal comes close to matching this amount (24.87 percent over four years according to its Web site), the CFA claims a large portion that figure is based on unapproved government funding, making the offer far less than advertised.

“Roughly nine percent of that proposal isn’t guaranteed,” Saenz said. “It’s smoke and mirrors on the administration’s part.”

Administration spokesperson Paul Browning said the administration’s proposal is excellent and one he is surprised the CFA hasn’t already accepted.

“It’s not a matter of faculty asking too much, it’s a matter of how much we have to give,” he said. “We’ve offered them the maximum amount we can.”

If CSU faculty do not receive a raise this year, they could be paid 18 percent less than faculty in comparable institutions nationwide, according to a report published last year by the Postsecondary Education Commission.

Mechanical engineering instructor Glen Thorncroft, in his ninth year at Cal Poly, said faculty need a pay raise to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

“The dollars we’re paid aren’t worth what they once were,” he said. “We’re already underpaid compared to our sister institutions. Specifically at Cal Poly, the cost of living is outrageous. All faculty come to Cal Poly knowing they won’t get rich, but we haven’t taken a vow of poverty.”

The faculty labor agreement expired in July 2005 and has been extended several times as negotiations have proceeded.

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