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Faculty Rights Tip of the Week: How Will the CSU Respond to Gendered Workload Inequalities in Spring 2021?

Last month, NPR reported that four times more women than men left the labor force. Of those workers who left, 80 percent were women and 20 percent were men.

Women who take off time for work often face lost wages, thus growing the gendered wage gap. In a nation without universal childcare, women (who perform the majority of child care duties) are struggling to remain in the labor force – or to maintain their well-being and health when they do. Within academia, evidence is emerging that far fewer women than men are submitting research articles for review in academic journals.

For the Fall 2020 term, CSU faculty could access two COVID-19-related leave programs, including: the Coronavirus Paid Administrative Leave (CPAL) and Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave. These programs were designed to accommodate both medical and child care issues. Although at many CSU campuses, university administrators made it difficult for faculty to access these programs, most faculty that contacted CFA for help were approved for such leaves after the union undertook advocacy efforts to secure these benefits.

Even as the pandemic continues to tear through our communities, with school systems and child care facilities remaining closed across California, the CSU has not announced any special leave programs for Spring 2021, such as an extension of their Fall 2020 program, CPAL.

CFA knows that the CSU has failed, thus far, to offer Spring 2021 support for faculty who are not only working overtime to attend to stressed out CSU students recalibrating themselves to remote learning environments, but also caring for children who are at home because their daycare, preschool, and K12 schools are closed due to the pandemic. The absence of a CPAL-like program for Spring 2021 will sharpen the gendered inequities we are already seeing manifest within academia. Braided into such gendered inequities are the forms of cultural taxation faculty of color continue to experience in the CSU, spelling disaster especially for faculty in the CSU who are women of color caring for children at home – a situation that especially impacts probationary and Lecturer faculty.

Article 22 of our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) does enable faculty to take leaves of absence without pay. 22.3 states: “An eligible faculty unit employee may be granted a leave of absence without pay for a specific purpose and length of time, such as one (1) quarter, two (2) quarters, one (1) semester, or one (1) year, or shorter periods of time.  Leaves of absence without pay may be granted for up to two (2) years.  An extension of such leave may be granted for up to one (1) year at a time.” Talk with your chair or supervisor soon about the application process at your campus if you are thinking about this arrangement for Spring 2021.

CFA also negotiated an MOU to mitigate some of the impacts of COVID-19.  Full-time faculty may apply to have a partial leave of absence for the winter and spring terms.  Applications for leave should be completed at least 30 days prior to the term of leave.

As a union committed to racial and social justice and to faculty rights (projects that are inextricably intertwined), CFA will continue to advocate for the CSU to do better by their faculty employees, by considering and compensating us for the holistic ways in which the pandemic is impacting our lives. The bargaining and representation teams will continue our talks with the CSU about a Spring 2021 solution to relieve our faculty who are working the “second shift,” and in the meantime, faculty should make our voices heard on our campuses. Faculty can also reach out to CFA chapter representation for assistance. Leadership for northern California campuses can be found here and southern California campuses here.

Want to learn more? Become active with your local CFA chapter Faculty Rights team. Find your representative here.

If you have questions about a faculty rights tip or would like to suggest a tip, please write us with the subject line “Faculty Rights Tip.”