Any questions about the solidarity and resolve of the California State University faculty were answered resoundingly Wednesday by the results of the vote authorizing the California Faculty Association to hold a first-ever system-wide strike.
A powerful 95% of the voters agreed that the CSU’s instructional faculty, librarians, counselors and coaches should initiate rolling walkouts if the CSU administration continues to demand concessions.
Equally as impressive was the turnout, with 70% of CFA members voting to send an unmistakable message to Chancellor Charles B. Reed.
The results were announced Wednesday at a packed news conference at Cal State Long Beach. Throngs of media attended from throughout the Los Angeles region and dozens more listened to the proceedings via conference call.
Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, said, “Today, the faculty has spoken loud and clear – we have had enough of the way in which they are being treated by the CSU administration.”
Taiz continued, “Enough of executives putting themselves above the needs of the students, and of the public university. Enough of managers using budget cuts as an excuse to destroy the quality of students’ education. The message to Chancellor Reed is absolutely clear.
“The CSU faculty have run out of patience. It is time to address seriously the issues before us so that our faculty can get back to the business of providing quality higher education to the students of California.”
CFA President Taiz, Bargaining Team Chair Andy Merrifield, and CFA Secretary John Halcón made the announcement to the assembled media and dozens of cheering faculty who turned out to voice their support.
Wednesday’s announcement sets in motion a series of events that could result in school not reopening this fall for some 400,000 CSU students due to a massive series of strikes.
The two sides will meet Thursday to explore getting the talks back on track. If that meeting fails, the process will move to fact-finding, the final step in the legal process to get a contract in public higher education.
The landslide strike authorization vote and our one-day strikes last fall leave no doubt that faculty have the capacity to shut down the university if an agreement cannot be reached, said CFA Vice President Kim Geron.
“There will be hundreds of faculty and supporters from other unions on the picket lines,” predicted Geron, a leader of CFA’s field operations, “and they will be joined by students and staff who are as fed up as we are.”
Merrifield, chair of the faculty union’s Bargaining Team and a professor of Political Science at Sonoma State University, said Wednesday’s announcement should serve as a wake up call for CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.
“We have said all along that we want to reach a settlement at the bargaining table. We call on the Chancellor to get serious about negotiating an agreement that works for everyone involved. If he refuses, then he forces us to proceed with a strike. That is not what we want and it’s not what the CSU needs.”