The CFA Bargaining Team is back to negotiations with management, and right out of the gate proposed strong changes to the contract.
Much of CFA’s work over the past six months prepared us for our first bargaining session last week with CSU management. Facing COVID-19’s many threats and the uprisings in response to anti-Black police violence, CFA leaders developed Our Way Forward and our Anti-Racism and Social Justice Demands this summer. Both documents guide our efforts to maintain faculty rights, defend access and quality instruction for students, and combat systemic racism at the CSU.
As we negotiate for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the CFA Bargaining Team is relying on Our Way Forward as well as priorities set out earlier in 2020 to steer our negotiations.
“Building from the survey results of last fall, the Bargaining Team has incorporated feedback from faculty about their experiences during the pandemic and the racial justice uprising,” said Kevin Wehr, CFA Vice President and Bargaining Team Chair. “We have a strong set of demands that will protect faculty and clarify our rights.”
In that spirit, the CFA Bargaining Team submitted several proposals aimed at meeting the needs of faculty. We proposed anti-bias measures in the evaluation article, changes to range elevation, and a stand-alone article on academic freedom.
“Scholarly research clearly demonstrates student evaluations of teaching effectiveness reflect student race and gender biases and are, generally, deeply flawed measures of teaching effectiveness,” said Sharon Elise, CFA Associate Vice President of Racial and Social Justice, South. “Experimental studies demonstrate that student reactions to an introductory lecture changed after simply altering the race and gender of the person delivering it, revealing marked race and gender bias. Given that two major publications, Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education have recently published articles arguing against reliance on student evaluations of teaching, it is time the CSU follows this advice.”
Additionally, the Bargaining Team proposed clearer workload provisions in Article 20.
“In the last two months, our chapter at CSU Northridge has filed dozens of workload grievances, and I know it’s similar on other campuses,” said Antonio Gallo, a member of the Bargaining Team and Contract Development and Bargaining Strategy Committee Chair. “Without any justification or consultation, management is expecting our members to teach a greater number of students in our classes. Not only is it wearing us down, it’s not fair to students who still require attention and thorough assessment of their work.”
CFA also suggested that we adopt gender-neutral language throughout the CBA and address the grievance and arbitration processes to more efficiently achieve corrections to contract violations by CSU management.
Faculty enjoy rights to academic freedom already protected by our contract. But the current moment highlights the need for an expanded and stand-alone article that protects faculty in all aspects of their work: in the classroom, in research and creative activity, in shared governance, in the library, and in the athletic and health facilities.
“Academic freedom is foundational to our work in the academy. With it, we are able to create and disseminate knowledge, teach difficult and controversial subject matter, and have the voice to explore world knowledge from many perspectives. Today, the rights of academic freedom are glaringly important. A stand-alone article in our contract will attest to this importance,” CFA President Charles Toombs said.
The No. 1 issue from the 2019 bargaining survey was workload. And that was before COVID-19 altered instruction and delivery of other services to students and increased our work responsibilities. CFA will fight to reduce the strain and ensure students are receiving the quality education they deserve.
The Bargaining Team was scheduled to meet with management again this week, but they’ve asked to use the days to work up responses to our proposals and to draft their own. We will meet across the (Zoom) table with them next week, and we will continue to update faculty about all of our developments. As we move through bargaining, feel free to submit questions and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.