Fact-Finder Sides with CFA in Salary Dispute

Last week, impartial third-party fact-finder Philip Tamoush sided with CFA in the dispute over how to settle “reopener” talks on faculty raises negotiated for the 2009/10 academic year, but which were never paid.

It is the third consecutive time that a neutral fact-finder has disagreed with Chancellor Reed’s arguments in bargaining with the faculty; Mr. Tamoush clearly was not persuaded by Reed’s insistence that the university is broke and, therefore, could not offer anything to the faculty. Once again, the Chancellor failed to convince an outside party charged with examining the facts in bargaining disputes between the CSU administration and CFA.

Fact-finding is the final stage of the so-called “Statutory Process” outlined under the California’s Higher Education Employment Relations Act. This statute spells out the steps by which public higher education employees and employers reach a contract. Under HEERA, the fact-finder’s report is not binding, with the suspension of Article 9 that occurs at the end of the process, faculty gain the right to strike.

To learn about how the statutory process works, read the chart on pages 5-6 of CFA’s “Insiders Guide to Collective Bargaining.”

After assessing four sessions of live testimony as well as written arguments and other documents, Tamoush rejected the Chancellor’s rationale for paying zero General Salary Increases, Service Step Increases and Equity Pay in the year 2009/1010. Convinced the Chancellor has some funds at his disposal, he recommended a very modest settlement in the hopes that the Chancellor would accept even a small solution to honor—at least in part—a contract he had negotiated.

Contrary to what CSU Vice Chancellor Gail Brooks stated in a letter sent last Friday to all CSU employees, the settlement that Mr. Tamoush recommended was estimated by the Chancellor’s own staff to have an ongoing cost of just over $10 million. Moreover, in concluding the second year of the Equity program should be implemented and step increases for those who need them most be paid, the Fact-finder’s recommendations would help address ongoing salary inequities for thousands of faculty members. In preparing his report, Tamoush considered that the Chancellor had recently spent almost $6 million to award equity and other raises to a few hundred management employees.

The Chancellor’s arrogance was demonstrated not only by the refusal to accept the fact-finder’s report, but by the petulant and antagonistic tone of his administration’s dissent. The document (twice as long as the fact-finding report) was quite shocking in its tone—being marked by criticism and insults directed at the neutral, Mr. Tamoush.

Furious that the fact-finder did not find their arguments persuasive, the Chancellor’s representative repeatedly and peevishly lashed out at the fact-finder in the administration’s dissent, accusing him of failing ”to conduct a comprehensive review of the parties’ positions, and thereafter actually make some findings of fact….” The Chancellor’s office response went on to accuse him of “a complete abrogation of the Panel Chair’s statutory responsibilities under the HEERA.”

Read the Fact-finding report, CFA’s Concurrence and the Chancellor’s dissenting statement.

The vitriol of the Chancellor’s dissent offers an insight into the atmosphere in the successor bargaining talks (CFA is bargaining for our next contract at the same time as dealing with the “reopener” talks on raises that were not given under the contract already in place). And, given the suggestion by Vice Chancellor Brooks that faculty and staff might expect a 3% compensation increase in 2012/13, we can only assume that she has not yet been briefed by the Chancellor’s negotiators.

In fact, he is offering faculty nothing now and less later in terms of salary and benefits. If he is serious about advocating for a 3% compensation pool, we look forward to a seeing counter-proposal at the table.