Hundreds of CFA members, Teamsters members, Academic Professionals of California (APC), CSUEU, and Students for Quality Education (SQE) rallied outside the November 7 Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach to demand a fair contract.

A large number of people hold up signs that read 'Strike Ready.'
A sea of red at the Board of Trustees rally as members demonstrate that they are strike ready.

Expressing her frustration at the unfair treatment of faculty and staff, Sam Heller, SQE intern at CSU San Marcos, said, “We are here to demand that you meet the needs of faculty and staff and give them a fair contract. Students are not ignorant, and we know these demands can and should be met. Do the right thing. Be on the right side of history or be on the side that furthers oppression and inequality of some of the most important members of society: those who serve students and keep our campuses running.”

Heller’s comments come at a time when we are nearing the end of the statutory process and management has made minimal movement on pay and hardly any movement on our other demands. Find out more about the counterproposal here.

During the rally, Charles Toombs, CFA President, addressed the coalition of faculty, staff, students, and elected officials with a megaphone, “They have not made any movement whatsoever. We are going to show them what it means for the CSU to shut down. You will have no school without classes. You will have no school without committee work. You will have no school without all the research and professional development that we do. So, the message today to the Board of Trustees and the chancellor is that this is your last chance. You have got to make substantial movement on these proposals or we shut it down.”

Community and legislative leaders joined the coalition in speaking out against these injustices and expressed their indebtedness toward our fight for the future of public education. Among them was Senator Lena Gonzalez, who participated in our strike-ready picket line.

“I am a CSU Long Beach graduate. I am daughter of a Teamsters member. I am going to shut it down with you,” said Gonzalez. “We need to ensure that our educators who are educating the state of California, people like me – who became state senators – receive the equity they deserve.”

Assemblymember Mike Gibson spoke after Gonzalez and pledged his commitment to our cause. “My father was a union president. I worked to serve unions for twenty-one years before I was elected to the California Legislature. I stand in solidarity with my colleagues. We have since signed a letter and sent it to the chancellor. Your struggles are our struggles. We sent a clear message that if they don’t negotiate this contract with decent wages and benefits, we will shut it down! You are not in this struggle by yourself. We will be back and we will bring other legislators with us and we will shut it down.”  

Their speeches were nearly drowned out by roaring chants reflecting the struggle and solidarity of hundreds of faculty, staff, and students.

Speaking to the CSU trustees and in solidarity with CFA members, Jason Rabinowitz, Teamsters Local 2010 Secretary-Treasurer, asserted, “You can hear us outside and across the state. Our members are fed up with CSU’s unfair practices. The proposals that CSU has at the table are inadequate. You’re proposing takeaways to emergency pay, which is particularly insulting to our members who are there on the front lines through every emergency. And you want to take away our work protections. It’s time for CSU to get back to the table and bargain in good faith with the Teamsters union and all the unions. If not, we are ready to shut you down.”

If any message were clear, it was that – in CSU management’s attempt to divide us – it has only helped cultivate an even stronger unity among us.

Our faculty, staff, and students know what is at stake within the CSU system. Our proposals address systemic inequities and ever-increasing workload demands. We will continue to fight for a fair contract that ensures a quality education for our students.

“It seems that managers of the CSU don’t actually know how to negotiate,” said Kevin Wehr, CFA Bargaining Chair and CSU Sacramento professor. “So, we are ready to do what educators do: teach a lesson that other employers are learning around the country right now.”

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