With the ratification of our new 2022-2024 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), CFA secured new and improved language in Article 20 (Workload). One such improvement is that Article 20.37 – which provides workload relief for exceptional service to students – is made permanent in the CBA, and the allocation for compensating this dimension of workload is expanded to 900 weighted teaching units (WTUs) per year, divided among the campuses across the CSU.

As a result, many campuses this Spring term are quickly preparing calls for applications for this form of workload relief, and it is important to know what the new language means so that you can determine whether the forms of work you perform may qualify for this award. 

Article 20.37, “Assigned Time for Exceptional Levels of Service to Students,” states:

“Exceptional service awards are intended to recognize faculty who have a demonstrated commitment to working on issues faced by our diverse student population. Assigned time from this pool should be awarded to faculty for mentoring, advising, and outreach, to support underserved, first-generation, and/or underrepresented students and other practices in support of such students, including those caused by cultural taxation. This support includes but is not limited to: the development and implementation of high-impact educational practices; curricular redesign intended to improve student access and success; service to the department, college, university, or community that goes significantly beyond the normal expectations of all faculty; assignment to courses where increases to enrollment have demonstrably increased workload; and other extraordinary forms of service to students.”

What is cultural taxation? CFA’s veteran leader, Dr. Cecil Canton, has noted that Dr. Amado Padilla coined the term “cultural taxation” to name the “unique burden” that faculty of color and other underrepresented faculty face in carrying out responsibilities to the university, and that if unacknowledged and uncompensated, cultural taxation can become a “stealth workload escalator” and thus a “a silent killer of professional careers and aspirations.”

Why might a faculty member experiencing cultural taxation apply for workload relief via 20.37? For example, students majoring in a given degree program may flock to the only woman of color in the department because of her experiences, and thus her mentoring style, that are rooted in being a woman of color in STEM. This leads the faculty member to chair a disproportionate amount of thesis or project committees, as compared with her department colleagues. In this case, that faculty member may decide to apply for the WTUs afforded by Article 20.37. If she is not otherwise being compensated for this work, her application would be an appropriate application of the “cultural taxation” language in 20.37.

Another important bit of language to know in Article 20.37 is the sentence, “All faculty unit employees are eligible to apply.” Instructional faculty, counselors, librarians, and coaches – whether contingent (e.g. lecturers), probationary, or tenured – are all eligible to apply. Campuses are responsible for adjusting the assignments accordingly for faculty such as coaches, counselors, and librarians, whose workload occurs as a 40 hour workweek, rather than as a measure of WTUs. A 3 WTU award for such faculty should result in a 20% workload reduction for that term in order to compensate for the “exceptional service to students” being recognized by virtue of the award.

Consult your Academic Senate for more information about the format and timelines for the “Exceptional Service to Students” awards, as these vary by campus, even as all must conform to the parameters outlined in Article 20.37.

Finally, be a supportive colleague! If you witness some of your colleagues being culturally taxed without relief, encourage them to apply for this award and offer to provide editorial feedback on their applications. Oftentimes, the most culturally taxed among us have the least amount of time to apply for such relief, but if we pitch in and help each other out, we can make progress on lessening the workload inequities cultural taxation reproduces at our universities. To paraphrase Dr. Cecil Canton, now that we have named it in the CBA (“cultural taxation”), let’s work together to tame it!

Want to learn more about these new provisions in the CFA? Become active with your local CFA chapter Faculty Rights team. Find your representative here. Learn more about the Council of Lecturers here.

  • Browse the faculty contract here.
  • See an archive of Faculty Rights Tips.
  • If you have questions about a faculty rights tip or would like to suggest a tip, please write us with the subject line “Faculty Rights Tip.”
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