California State University Board of Trustees to ratify agreement with California Faculty Association

For Immediate Release: May 24, 2016

  • CFA reminds CSU Trustees: Still more to do to fix broken salary structure
  • CSU still underfunded by the state, needs increased funding to serve students
  • Spending in “The People’s University” needs to focus on mission

On Wednesday, the CSU Board of Trustees will vote to ratify the Tentative Agreement on salary between the California Faculty Association, representing more than 27,000 faculty in the 23-campus California State University system, and the CSU’s management, bringing the two-year long and difficult negotiations to a close.

The CSU Board of Trustees is expected to accept the recommendation of the Committee on Collective Bargaining, and at that point a new chapter in relations between the faculty and management in “The People’s University” can begin.

“We are pleased that we managed to avoid a strike and come to a reasonable agreement that takes fair and necessary steps toward resolving long-standing and much-aggrieved salary problems for the faculty,” said Jennifer Eagan, President of the California Faculty Association. “It was a difficult year, but we created a good outcome for faculty, students, and the system as a whole.”

In conversation after the Collective Bargaining Committee report, she noted, “It is time that the working relationship improve between those of us who make this public university run and those who have managerial power over it. We still have, and always will have, much to do to preserve the CSU as a high quality public university system for all Californians.”

One immediate challenge is state funding for the CSU. The governor and legislature have yet to restore all the funding that was slashed during the recessionary Schwarzenegger years. And, since then, the growing numbers of both currently enrolled and eligible students mean that the CSU needs that funding restored now if the CSU is to meet the state’s needs. 

CSU advocates, including CFA and the CSU Trustees, have been calling for $101 million for the CSU above the governor’s current plan for the 2016-17 State Budget. In the May Revise, the governor added $25 million in one-time funding.

“The CSU needs an increase in permanent and recurring funding” says Eagan, “we don’t have one-time students. Students recur. There are more of them every year. And that’s a good thing. California badly needs more people with college degrees. But, we need to restore ongoing funding to the system to be able to serve them all.”

Eagan noted the history of difficult labor relations in the CSU has been fueled by long-standing differences over the nature of the university as a public good—something that benefits all of society and so should be financed by the public as a whole—rather than as a private service provider that benefits students individually and asks them to bear the cost on their own.

“The faculty remain focused on the mission of the CSU,” Eagan explained.  “We will continue to press for the Master Plan’s vision of the CSU as a place where every eligible student can get a high quality higher education without graduating with crippling debt. We understand that our economy and our democracy depend on affordable and public higher education.”

Other issues CFA identifies as important in the coming period are:

Improving tenure density in the CSU. Currently, 60% of CSU faculty are on temporary contracts and are not eligible for tenure. In order to serve students better, the CSU must make a full institutional commitment to faculty employees by increasing the number of tenure-track faculty. The persistent trend to shift academic teaching into a temporary, part-time function at low pay and limited, if any, health care or retirement benefits undermines teachers’ capacity to meet the needs of students while they support their own families. CSU management has used this “gig” approach to move more and more dollars away from paying salaries for people who work directly with students.

Establishing a regular salary schedule once and for all. Unlike all other state employees, CSU faculty and staff do not have a system of steps, meaning regular increases based on experience and service. CSU management has engaged in a practice of start and stop when providing step pay increases for service over time. Once such a system is in place, and remains in place, the cost of providing it is neutral due to retirements of more senior employees. Unfortunately, in the CSU the insistence on temporary faculty employees, yields unfair anomalies in the salary structure and extra costs every time it gets started up again.


California Faculty Association members have already voted to ratify the Tentative Agreement.

The Trustees’ ratification ends a long, difficult process that began in 2014 when the sides agreed on the current contract except for salary in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

CFA waged a campaign dubbed the “Fight for Five” in which faculty on all 23 CSU campuses rallied, protested, “saw and wore” red, and prepared for a systemwide five-day strike. The Tentative Agreement came just a week before the strike was to begin.

The Tentative Agreement calls for further talks on “range elevation” for Lecturer faculty who work on temporary contracts—the process by which a Lecturer becomes eligible for increases based on years of experience teaching classes. Bargaining for a successor contract will begin in July 2017.

ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA FACULTY ASSOCIATION: CFA represents more than 27,000 tenured and tenure-track instructional faculty, lecturers who teach on temporary contracts, librarians, counselors, and coaches on the 23 campuses of the California State University system, from Humboldt State in the north to San Diego State in the south.  Learn more about CFA at