On May 1st, International Workers Day, we will be announcing our proposals for reopener bargaining.

“We look forward to announcing our bargaining goals and beginning to fight for a better CSU for the most precarious and historically marginalized. We are proud of the gains we have made on key racial and social justice issues and expect to continue to push the CSU,” said CFA bargaining committee chair Kevin Wehr. “Our members are excited to join our union siblings at the bargaining table. CSUEU and Teamsters have already demonstrated so much strength, vision, and solidarity and we’re eager to join them in this fight.”

At the May 22-24 CSU Board of Trustees meeting, we will formally announce or “sunshine” our intention to bargain.

California’s Higher Education Employment Relations Act (HEERA) outlines the many steps by which public higher education employees and employers reach agreement to bargain a contract. The purpose of the “sunshining” portion is to ensure that the parties provide notice to the people of California that we intend to bargain.

The proposals will be based on the extensive qualitative and quantitative feedback from more than 7,300 members who completed our bargaining survey between February and April, the many messages sent to Bargaining Ideas, and the ideas and feedback members presented during the campus bargaining meetings.

Several CSU campuses will be hosting rallies, solidarity actions, and press conferences. Look out for communication from your campus leaders for local events.

Across the CSU, workers are making their presence felt. On April 17, student assistants from across 23 campuses filed a request for a union election with the California’s Public Employment Relations Board, submitting more than 4,000 signed union authorization cards. The California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) has helped the students organize and gather more than 4,000 worker signatures starting last November. The 10,0000 undergraduate student worker bargaining unit would be the largest of any organized in the United States.

CFA Pomona joined the CSUEU student workers and Cal Poly Pomona Democratic Socialists of America for their filing celebration on campus.

Group of people with banners and signs outdoors

Many of the students say they’re financially independent and, in many cases, first-generation. Students have argued that they need higher wages, more hours, and paid time off for sickness and holidays to afford basic living expenses like rent and groceries.

Any CSU campus department can hire students to assist full-time staffers with their work. The students often complete the same types of work as staffers without receiving any of the benefits or protections of unionized workers. For example, if a student worker gets sick, they don’t receive any paid sick leave. They have to forgo the hours or arrange to make up the time later.

CalMatters spoke with Delilah Mays-Triplett, a library assistant at San Diego State University. When Mays-Triplett’s check came, she saw she was paid $15.50 per hour, nearly a dollar lower than the San Diego minimum wage of $16.30.

The CSUEU previously filed petitions with the board in 2021 to add student assistants into its existing bargaining units, but the CSU disputed the claim that student workers have enough in common with other university support staff to be folded in with them. They union is continuing to pursue the legal option of expanding existing bargaining units to include student assistants.

Some 11,000 CSU teaching assistants and other academic workers are represented already by United Auto Workers local 4123. But the student workers involved in the CSUEU organizing effort are doing more administrative or office work than instructional work.

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