The factfinding stage of the statutory process has ended and no settlement has been reached between CFA members and CSU management. We are now legal to take collective concerted action, and we will do so next week in our continuing efforts to win a transformative contract that benefits all faculty through a framework that centers equity and justice.
In the meantime, CFA is planning to file a lawsuit in federal district court today, challenging CSU’s infringement of our members’ academic freedom. In the days before the Teamsters strike, CSU East Bay and CSU Fullerton sent messages to their campus communities prohibiting faculty from using class time to discuss the strike. As public employees, CFA members have constitutional rights to free speech. Within the context of academic freedom, this First Amendment protection applies to CFA members’ discussion matters of public concern in the context of their scholarship and teaching. We are challenging CSU’s prior restraint of our members’ academic freedom and asking that the federal court issue an injunction to prevent them from continuing to do so.
On November 21, a factfinder – a neutral third-party panelist appointed by the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) – prepared a report that included non-binding recommendations for how CFA members and CSU management might come to an agreement.
Our bargaining team and CSU management then entered a 10-day silent period to review the report before it was released to the public earlier today.
In the report, the factfinder did not fully agree with CFA members or with CSU management on any of the issues currently in dispute, and this was to be expected. PERB and the statutory process are designed to slow down the concerted actions of unions, to moderate their demands, and to search for ways to maintain labor peace and the status quo.
For our part, CFA members are pushing the boundaries of business as usual in our contract proposals and we remain committed to our transformative demands. Still, when recommending a 7 percent General Salary Increase (GSI), the factfinder acknowledged that this would entail a pay cut for faculty. The factfinding panel chair tried valiantly to find ways to bring faculty salaries up to the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation over the last two years and, at the same time, rejected an overall GSI of 12 percent. While CFA members understand and appreciate these efforts, the best way to address a loss in buying power is to grant an adequate overall General Salary Increase to all faculty.
Management has called for building upon the status quo, but CFA members remain steadfast in pushing transformative bargaining proposals intended to uplift faculty.
“We are overworked and underpaid, and our students are not getting the education they deserve,” said Anthony Ratcliff, Contract Development & Bargaining Strategy (CDBS) Committee Chair, CFA Los Angeles President, and CSU Los Angeles professor. In the same vein, CFA Bargaining Chair and CSU Sacramento professor Kevin Wehr remarked, “The contract we are fighting for is not something we merely want. It is something we fundamentally need.”
This is why we will continue to demand a 12 percent GSI for this year to keep faculty ahead of inflation. But we also demand raising the floor for our lowest-paid faculty in order to bring them at least to parity with K-12 and Community College educators across the state. We continue to demand manageable workloads that allow more support and engagement with students, a full semester of paid parental leave, hiring more counselors to improve students’ much-needed access to mental health counseling, accessible lactation spaces, safe gender-inclusive restrooms and changing rooms, and safety provisions for faculty interacting with university police on our campuses.
Just this week, a tentative agreement was announced in which USC graduate students won a full semester of parental leave, yet CSU management has refused to do the same for our parenting faculty.
Furthermore, Academic Professionals of California (APC) members just announced yesterday that they have voted against the tentative agreement with CSU management.
The factfinder’s evenhanded recommendations recognize that the status quo is not good enough and demonstrate how CFA members’ organizing and collective strength can truly lead to the transformation we need to advance the working conditions of our most vulnerable faculty, our lecturer faculty, our Black and brown, trans, queer, and non-binary faculty.
We have the power to make change, and we will continue to ensure a safe and equitable workplace for all CSU workers.