CFA tells CSU Trustees: We’re ready to strike!

With the countdown to the strike ticking away, CFA leaders rebuked Chancellor Tim White and CSU Trustees Tuesday for failing to resolve the contract dispute.

The Trustees’ meeting March 8 and 9 was the last public meeting before the faculty strike, which is planned for April 13-15 and 18-19 if the statutory process doesn’t yield an agreement.

CFA President Jennifer Eagan asked Trustees what they are doing to avert the strike, saying union leaders have been reaching out to meet, but the offers have been ignored.

“Chancellor White, you are the leader of the system, so this is on you,” said Eagan, a Cal State East Bay professor. “The maintenance on your house has languished for a long time with stagnant and uneven salaries, an increasing dependence on a precarious faculty workforce, and inattention to how faculty are treated affects students. This inattention predates the recession, and certainly predates your position as Chancellor. However, it’s your house now.

“Your house is on fire, please pay attention. Stop pulling the covers over your head and ignoring the red shirts and the anger you face in every encounter with faculty.”

Last week, faculty and students held a “dismal carnival” and questioned a testy White during his visit to Cal State East Bay. San Diego State faculty also drilled White during a forum held there.

Jonathan Karpf, CFA’s Associate Vice President for Lecturers-North and a member of the CFA Bargaining Team, told Trustees Tuesday that White’s touchstone on sustainability is falling on deaf ears. Sixty percent of faculty are full and part-time Lecturers and they’re being run ragged by the CSU’s increasing class sizes and low wages.

“The current reliance on—and exploitation of—an increasingly contingent faculty of low-wage earners is neither sustainable nor in the best interests of our students,” said Karpf, a Lecturer in Anthropology at San Jose State. “Your notion that you are somehow respecting the bargaining process by disassociating yourself from it would be laughable if it were not so disingenuous… You have the ability to have your team come back to the table and settle this salary dispute and avoid the largest and longest-running strike in higher education in the history of the United States.

“But that would take true leadership. If you refuse to negotiate in good faith, I promise you that the Lecturers in the CSU will be standing side-by-side with our tenure-track colleagues, and on April 13th and we’ll be shutting down business as usual on all 23 campuses. We honestly do not want to strike, but we most certainly will.”

As Lillian Taiz, immediate past president of CFA said, “…When the leader of the system who himself earns in excess of $430,000 comes to campus and tells faculty, whose average earnings is $46,000 a year, that they can’t have a 5% raise because other things are more important and we must ‘live within our means’ it is not surprising that faculty (and staff) would have a very strong negative reaction.

“…As the Chancellor of this system today you must take responsibility to correct the inequities that plague our system NOW. You may not ask us for patience. You and those who came before you have exhausted our patience.”

APC President Patrick Choi asked Trustees to not ask APC members to “plan and participate in classroom activities for any of the affected courses.” CSUEU and other union leaders echoed that they support faculty during the meeting Tuesday and Wednesday.

Faculty: Click here to pledge to honor the strike today.

Allies and Affiliates: Click here to commit your support and help during the faculty strike.

Photo courtesy: Josh Barber/Riverside Press-Enterprise