The CFA Bargaining Team has been meeting with the administration throughout the summer months, and we write with an important update on the bargaining process. Unfortunately, the most recent proposals coming from the Chancellor’s bargaining team do not get us the rights, respect, or justice we seek for those of us who make our living as teachers and scholars in the CSU.

The faculty of the CSU have worked ourselves to the bone for our students over the last year and half. We managed to help the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 achieve success despite a global pandemic.

Kevin Wehr holds a sign saying "we are bargaining for fair workload."
CFA Vice President and Bargaining Chair Kevin Wehr.

CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro has praised the faculty in public for this work, and we thank him for that.

However, despite these public proclamations, privately, the Chancellor’s bargaining team are not emulating the kind words of their boss. Rather, the CSU labor relations team proposes no reward for our pandemic efforts, with no salary increase for 2020, and they refuse to make any meaningful investment in the CSU’s tenure-line faculty, lecturers, counselors, librarians, and coaches.

Notwithstanding the “historic” 2021-22 investment in CSU funding from the state, Castro peddles imaginary austerity measures.

The CFA Bargaining Team met with the CSU management team two days last week and was presented with unacceptable proposals on salary, faculty parking fees, and the Faculty Early Retirement Program.

“Our latest round of bargaining with the CSU bargaining team goes beyond unacceptable,” said Charles Toombs, CFA President. “Its proposals on salary, the FERP Program, and increasing faculty parking fees are downright disrespectful of the tremendous work faculty are doing during the pandemic to ensure students graduate and the CSU remains a first-class nationwide university system.”

Disingenuous Wage Proposal Leaves Faculty Behind

Recognizing the immense task faculty undertook and accomplished during the 2020-21 Academic Year in shifting classes and services to virtual modalities, CFA proposed an annual 4 percent across-the-board salary increase for 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23. Our proposal also includes additional wage increases for faculty without recent in-range movement and faculty who have maxed out in their salary ranges.  We also put forward an equity program to address salary inversion, compression, and a proposal to study and address unfair wage gaps along race and gender lines.

In our meeting Wednesday, the CSU countered with a 2-percent general wage increase for 2021-22 only, and reopener language for the second and third year of a potential contract. The Chancellor’s proposal does nothing for compression and inversion. And the CSU, consistent with paying lip service only to the racial reckoning of the last year, is entirely disinterested in confronting systemic racism and sexism in the salary structure.

The CSU proposal is unacceptable for many reasons.  First and foremost, it does not recognize the extraordinary work of the pandemic year, when many of our faculty transitioned to virtual instruction and service delivery with little or no training, rewriting curricula with limited resources mid-semester and on their own time to get the job done.  Faculty sprang into action to upgrade their internet and computer technology, often at their own cost.  They spent hours helping students do the same, or assisting them through myriad personal, financial, and health crises.  While working from home, faculty also helped their children learn from home and cared for family members and friends.

“This was one of the most difficult years imaginable, and the CSU is unwilling to do anything for faculty,” said Gwen Urey, CFA Bargaining Team member. “CSU management is only talking the talk.”

The salary proposal is just as troubling. State legislators increased CSU funding in the 2021-22 budget by 5 percent and has restored the cut funding from 2020-21, causing Chancellor Castro to refer to the investment in the CSU as “historic” in July’s Board of Trustees meeting and in media interviews. The CSU has also received billions in federal stimulus money over the past 12 months. However, when pressed about their low-ball salary proposal, the CSU management team said that they simply have “different priorities.”

In bad financial times, management wants to pull back negotiated raises. In good times, they refuse to agree to reasonable compensation increases to respect faculty. It is clear the CSU is not interested in investing in faculty while we invest in student learning. This accumulation of funds from the State, with increased enrollments, means increasing faculty workloads with no corresponding salary increases.

The wage stagnation leaves many faculty behind as they balance their income with increasing expenses.  The California Department of Industrial Relations calculated a 4-percent increase in inflation between April 2020 and April 2021, the most recent data available.

“We live in two different worlds,” said Bargaining Team member Vang Vang about CSU management and CFA members. “They do not understand or acknowledge the lived realities of faculty or students who struggle to cover basic needs like food, rent, and utilities.”

But that’s not all.

CSU Proposal Charges Faculty Even More to Park at Work

The CSU proposed an increase to the amount faculty pay to park at work. Many employers provide free or subsidized parking for workers. Not the CSU.

The CSU proposal would increase faculty parking fees to parity with student parking fees, a move that for many faculty would devour the paltry 2 percent wage increase the CSU put forward.

When asked for justification, CSU management could not point to anything in the budget to warrant such a move, which faculty will experience as a pay cut. Nor could the Chancellor’s team spell out the percentage increase this proposal would represent on each of the campuses.

In response, the CFA team proposed that instead of raising faculty rates, that students’ rates be reduced to bring them in line with what faculty pay.

CSU Attacks Program Beneficial to Faculty, Students, and the CSU

CSU management’s proposal on the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP) is troubling in that it seeks to erode a program that has served as a win-win for the university system.

FERP allows eligible faculty to retire and continue teaching and service at a time-base of up to 50 percent. Participating faculty may draw both their retirement and a fraction of their annual salary for up to five years under our current contract. FERP provides a source of mentorship and support from senior faculty to junior faculty and allows senior faculty to continue serving on committees and other crucial service work. FERP is beneficial in so many ways and is a cost savings for the CSU because the faculty are paid 50 percent of what they made before but also shifts off the pension and health contribution from the CSU to the California Public Employee Retirement System.

The CSU is proposing to decrease that maximum participation in FERP from five years to three.  Management provided no justification for changes to a program that allows tenured faculty to continue to fulfill critical teaching and service needs. Instead, the CSU’s unnecessary revision will continue to erode tenure density.

“They are engaged in decision-based fact-making, instead of fact-based decision-making,” said Kevin Wehr, CFA Bargaining Chair and Vice President, to sum up the two days of bargaining. “They have no data to support this attack on FERP, no justification for a parking rate increase, and their salary proposal doesn’t even come close to keeping up with inflation.”

Members who have thoughts about the CSU’s latest round of proposals, or general bargaining input to give can complete our feedback form.

And, as always, check for updates on bargaining and to read CFA and CSU proposals.

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