‘Faculty and Students are the Core’: CFA Begins Bargaining Conversations with CSU

Bargaining for a new contract is officially underway.

CFA met with CSU negotiators in Sacramento on March 5 and 6. CFA began its conversations centered on academic freedom, evaluations and workload for tenure line and lecturer faculty.  Each of these represent pieces of broader conversations that will develop as the bargaining process continues in the coming months.

CFA and management engaged in meaningful dialogue around these issues and will continue the conversation at our next meeting on April 10. 

CFA Leaders on the First Bargaining Meeting and Initial Conversation Items

Charles Toombs, CFA President, in his opening remarks to CFA and CSU negotiators:

“As we begin the bargaining process, I hope you (the CSU Management Bargaining Team) can envision this as an opportunity for both sides to do something remarkable for the CSU. Let’s work together in reasonable and honorable discussions to get the work done and negotiate a new contract.  Let’s do so without the acrimony of previous CSU management teams who were obstinate when they did not need to be. … Let’s seize this moment to truly honor and respect our Unit 3 members who are so important to the CSU mission.  Our faculty working conditions are student learning conditions; indeed, our faculty and the conditions they work under are … key to student success.  Faculty and students are the core, the heart and soul, of the CSU, and we think the CSU should want the best working conditions for faculty and respect this most important role they play in carrying out the CSU mission. And as CFA often says, we want our current students to have the same resources and opportunities as students had 30 years ago, when most students were white.”

Kevin Wehr, CFA Vice President and Bargaining Chair, on bias in evaluations:

“We want student evaluations that can actually contribute to our effectiveness as educators.  Low response rates that have a bi-modal distribution (those who love us and those who hate us) are not particularly helpful.  Similarly, having a set of evaluations that reflect biases about the identity of the faculty member rather than constructive input about teaching methods does not help a faculty member improve as an educator. The ways in which unconscious bias about race, sexuality, and gender nonconformity become visible in evaluations are similarly problematic. Studies discuss — and colleagues in the CSU system confirm — that evaluations will commonly address a faculty member’s accent, immigration status, attractiveness and include ideologically-based assessments about identity and appearance. These are not particularly helpful in improving one’s pedagogy, or in assessing teaching effectiveness.”

Loren Cannon, Bargaining Team member, on academic freedom:

“Faculty would be doing a disservice to our students if comments outside what is narrowly conceived as ‘course content’ were restricted. One of our responsibilities to our students is to make connections between disciplines and fields of study: to facilitate synthesis that integrates what seem to be disparate areas of inquiry. We aren’t ‘curriculum robots’ but teachers that create the setting for meaningful conversations of connection and lived experience.”

Molly Talcott, Bargaining Team member and CFA Faculty Rights Chair, on workload for tenure line faculty:

“The idea that, as a tenure-line faculty member working within the CSU’s teacher-scholar model, you can do service to your department, service to your college, service to the university, advise students, mentor students, evaluate your Lecturer colleagues in both classroom observations and as part of a personnel committee, write letters of recommendation for students and colleagues, participate meaningfully in Academic Senate, and undertake research, scholarship, and creative activities all in eight hours a week (the equivalent of three WTUs, or weighted teaching units), is a ludicrous proposition.” 

The Bargaining Team is composed of a team of 20 CFA leaders from various campuses and includes representatives from tenure line faculty, lecturer faculty, counselors, librarians, and coaches. Members are (with campus):

Kevin Wehr, Chair and Vice President, Sacramento
Charles Toombs, President, San Diego
Margarita Berta-Ávila, Associate Vice President North, Sacramento
Sharon Elise, Associate Vice President Racial and Social Justice South, San Marcos
Meghan O’Donnell, Associate Vice President Lecturers North, Monterey Bay
Michele Barr, Fullerton
Loren Cannon, Humboldt
Jennifer Eagan, East Bay
Steve Filling, Stanislaus
Richard Francisco, San José
Antonio Gallo, Northridge
Nichelle Henderson, Los Angeles
Kelly Janousek, Long Beach
Mark Karplus, East Bay
Elaine Newman, Sonoma
Carrie Sakai, San Diego
Randy Solario, Sacramento
Molly Talcott, Los Angeles
Gwen Urey, Pomona
Vang Vang, Fresno

We’ll provide updates to members as negotiations progress.  In the meantime, make sure to attend a bargaining update meeting at your campus.  Check here for the schedule.  Upcoming sessions include:

  • San Bernardino: Thursday, March 12, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Location Faculty Center for Excellence (4th floor in the Library). Join Steven Filling and Moe Miller for their presentation.
  • San Francisco: Wednesday, March 18, noon to 2 p.m., Location Library 286 (Faculty Commons). Join Kevin Wehr and Mark Karplus for discussion and presentation.
  • Chico: Wednesday, March 25, noon, Location TBD. 
  • Humboldt: Wednesday, March 25, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Location TBD.

Know a colleague who isn’t yet a member?  Talk to them and sign them up.  Successful bargaining depends on a strong CFA with member solidarity.