In Other News

SAFETY HAZARDS FOUND ON ALL FOUR CSU CAMPUSES AUDITED: California State Auditor Elaine Howle’s audit of safety hazards on four CSU campuses is in, and the findings are disturbing—faulty laboratory equipment, unsafe drinking water, asbestos and chemical spills.

“Without resolving these issues, campuses cannot ensure they are effectively protecting students and employees against injuries and illnesses,” wrote Howle.

None of the four CSU campuses that were examined—CSU Channel Islands, CSU Sacramento, San Diego State, and Sonoma State—could demonstrate that they provide students with safety training before working in labs.

The audit was requested by the CSU Employees Union, which represents staff employees, after a chemical spill at Sacramento resulted in injuries, and after a faculty-student chemistry class project found excessive lead in the water in campus fountains.

“We are glad that CSUEU pressed for this audit. It confirms our concerns that there are dangers for faculty, staff, and students in our work and teaching environment,” said Margarita Berta-Ávila, CFA Chapter President at CSU Sacramento.

CSU Chancellor’s Office public affairs noted in a Capital Public Radio report on the audit that a health and safety task force was formed in January 2017, and a consultant was hired to offer online safety training.

JUDGE DECIDES CANCELLATION OF DACA WAS ILLEGAL: A federal judge ruled yesterday that the Trump administration decision to end DACA, the program to protect from deportation young people brought to the U.S. as children, was “virtually unexplained” and therefore unlawful. The judge’s order requires the Department of Homeland Security to continue accepting renewals and to allow first-time DACA applications. However, the judge held back implementation of his order for 90 days to give DHS an “opportunity to better explain its view that DACA is unlawful.” Plaintiffs supporting DACA include two unions and the NAACP.

CFA Associate VP Rafael Gomez said of the decision, “We are not there yet but we are getting closer. The ruling by the court is a move in the right direction. The rescission of DACA by the current administration was arbitrary and capricious and it is encouraging that the courts agree with this assessment.”

Gomez added, “I call on our colleagues and allies to redouble their efforts to make sure we find a lasting solution to this injustice. All DACA recipients deserve to be given an opportunity to contribute to the only country they know.”

ACADEMIC FREEDOM IS TOPIC OF BARGAINING: Academic Freedom in the best of times is a challenge to preserve and to practice. In 2018, it is especially difficult—witness the controversy at CSU Fresno over a faculty member’s ability to speak their mind on Twitter. (See news articles in “Links of the Week”). In that case, after a number of unclear public statements, CSU Fresno President Castro resolved that no further investigation is warranted.

In that context, CFA and representatives of the CSU Chancellor’s Office met late last week to consider improvements to Academic Freedom language in the collective bargaining agreement covering Unit 3 Faculty. 

Kevin Wehr, chair of CFA’s Bargaining Team, explains, “This discussion is an outcome of the 2017 contract extension, adopted just before all of us in the CSU faculty were to go on strike. We extended our contract with essential elements including salary increases, and agreed to go on talking about other issues that needed more time.”

If the sides do not agree on terms of any changes, the contract will remain as is. See the contract and learn more about the 2017 contract extension agreement on the CFA web site.

‘RADIO FREE CSU’—LATEST PODCAST WITH CFA VP CHARLES TOOMBS: The fourth episode of “Stronger Together,” a 10-part podcast series, discusses CFA’s commitment to be deliberate in addressing racism. That means tackling obstacles that sprout up along the way, and finding ways that faculty and allies can be part of the solution. Toombs’ exploration of these topics illustrates CFA’s Anti-Racism and Social Justice Transformation principle that “We acknowledge that we can be part of the solution by being intentionally committed to addressing racism.” Click here to listen to the full podcast. More episodes are available here.

CFA MEMBER BECOMES COMMUNITY COLLEGE TRUSTEE: Congratulations to CSU Long Beach CFA member Uduak-Joe Ntuk, who was elected as a Trustee for the Long Beach Community College District. Read about it in the Long Beach Gazette.