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CFA Decries Executive Pay Increases During COVID-19, Employee Layoffs

At a special meeting in October, the CSU Board of Trustees appointed two new presidents.

Cathy A. Sandeen was appointed president of CSU East Bay, while Erika D. Beck moved from her current position as president at CSU Channel Islands to the new president at CSU Northridge.

Both appointees were given salary increases of 10 percent over their predecessors.  This is on the heels of the Board’s decision in September to award Chancellor-select Joseph Castro a salary of $625,000 (a 30 percent increase over outgoing Chancellor Timothy White). These decisions – to spend student tuition dollars and state money on executive raises – come during a global health pandemic, economic downturn, and while layoffs and loss of work happens across CSU campuses.

At the October meeting, Lt. Governor Kounalakis, an ex officio trustee, expressed that “a 10-percent increase from the past president to the current president is not appropriate.” CFA agrees.

Trustee Jane Carney, in response to public comment on layoffs and campus austerity measures as well as comments from the Board expressing their concern, said that “it was also unfair to perpetuate hardship for presidents.” This while approving salaries of $415,952 and $389,238 for the incoming presidents at East Bay and Northridge. Both also receive a $5,000 monthly housing allowance and a $1,000 monthly auto allowance. 

Trustees debated whether to give executives with six-figure salaries a 10 percent raise while faculty, staff, and many Californians, struggle to keep health insurance or their jobs. The fact that a trustee feels it is campus presidents experiencing hardship speaks volumes to their priorities.

Trustee Douglas Faigan expressed worry that the Board was “creating an academic reverse Robin Hood where we give to the rich and take from the poor.” But trustees chose to perpetuate systemic inequalities when approving these salaries.

Campus administrators have begun layoffs for many of the CSU’s lowest paid, racially and socioeconomically diverse workers. CFA signed on to a solidarity statement on behalf of these employees.  To support their efforts, consider signing their no-layoffs petition.

CFA Secretary Diane Blair made our position clear when she addressed the Board in October on these exorbitant pay raises. Calling these raises what they are, unconscionable, Blair told trustees that these actions are obscene and immoral.

The Board of Trustees will meet next week, on November 17 and 18, where they will discuss the 2021-22 budget, the implementation of an Ethnic Studies requirement, and continue talking about executive compensation. As always, CFA will be there to demand that Trustees act in the best interests of CSU students, faculty, and staff, and not continue to line executives’ pockets with exorbitant compensation.

The meeting will be available to watch over livestream and will start at approximately 10 a.m. on November 17.

 

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