CFA Charge Alleges Interference in Union Activities by San Jose State

CFA leaders at San Jose State University are attempting to address promotion and tenure denials to a disproportionately high number of women of color. Unfortunately, SJSU management has sought to interfere with our legally protected rights to do so.

CFA recently filed an unfair labor practice charge alleging that the CSU violated the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act, which governs labor relations within the CSU.   CFA maintains that SJSU management is interfering with union activities and with faculty members’ rights to raise retention, tenure, and promotion concerns with the campus’ Academic Senate.

During the Spring 2019 semester, the San Jose Chapter observed an unusually high number of tenure and promotion denials, and the Chapter filed nine grievances for members who had been denied tenure and/or promotion.  Of the nine grievants, seven were women of color.  Understandably, the chapter became concerned not only with the increased volume of tenure and promotion denials, but also with the fact that they were disproportionately women of color. 

In the Fall of 2019, the San Jose Chapter’s Anti-Racism and Social Justice Transformation Committee sent a letter to the SJSU Academic Senate expressing its concerns over the tenure denials.  The Academic Senate adopts promotion and tenure policies and procedures.  The Senate assigned the topic to the appropriate committee, which began an inquiry into the matter. CFA leaders hoped the Senate committee would work to address systemic racism, and engage with faculty about how policies, criteria, practices, and norms can produce unjust outcomes for women and people of color.

In October 2019, SJSU’s Senior Associate Vice President of University Personnel addressed both the Senate and the Union that it was inappropriate for CFA to have contacted the Senate and that it is inappropriate for the Senate to look into the matter.  The Senior AVP’s action is chilling and is interfering in union activities. Further, her intrusion into the Academic Senate is truly inappropriate given the power and platform she already enjoys in her management role.

“I am one of the seven women of color affected by the gendered and racialized outcomes of the tenure and promotion process. After we submitted our letter to the Academic Senate, I received a form from HR implying that I could not organize with other women in my same position as a group and could only make an individual claim of racial injustice in regard to the tenure/ promotion process we experienced,” said Sang Hea Kil, who teaches justice studies at SJSU and is co-chair of the campus’ Anti-Racism and Social Justice Transformation Committee.  “It was a chilling letter. In my opinion, it was a way to try to shut down any collective inquiry into our troubled and opaque promotion process.”