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CSU admin’s response to series demonstrates a ’shocking level of insensitivity’

In an open letter to CSU Chancellor Tim White, CFA President Lillian Taiz states that the union will fight against the Race to the Bottom that the CSU administration is leading—one that has left many faculty and their families facing financial hardships.

The letter, sent Monday, April 20, was in response to a statement by the CSU administration regarding CFA’s “Race to the Bottom” series. The letter is included below in its entirety.

April 20, 2015

Chancellor White,

Faculty around the system read with anger and disappointment the statement issued by your administration on the very day that CFA released its third paper in the Race to the Bottom series, “Losing Ground and Losing Faith.”

The statement can be viewed at http://blogs.calstate.edu/pa/news/?p=6245. 

Your statement demonstrated a shocking level of insensitivity to the economic conditions of the very people who have sacrificed so much for the university over the last decade during good times and bad.

First, your suggestion that faculty profited during the “peak of the recession” ignores the terrible financial losses they suffered in 2009 with furloughs. It ignores the fact that salary increases they fought for and won in 2007 were zeroed out and that they went 5 more years with not an additional nickel. It ignores the fact that faculty with terminal degrees and years of experience who have devoted their careers to this institution and their students find themselves earning less than truck drivers, plumbers, K-12 teachers, and others. [see Race to the Bottom Paper 1] Shame on you.

“Losing Ground and Losing Faith” includes statements from nearly 100 faculty who had the courage to step up and share the heartbreak, embarrassment, and indignity of their experiences struggling to make ends meet and support their families on the salaries paid by the California State University system. They hoped that by sharing their stories you and the rest of your administration would understand the toll the policies of your predecessor took on the teaching workforce in the CSU.

Instead, your message demonstrated a shocking level of insensitivity to faculty suffering. Each faculty member deserves your compassion and your support. Their lived experiences do not deserve to be dismissed with the same old “everything’s coming up roses” in the CSU narrative. Everything in the CSU is NOT rosy. The administration must be concerned about the faculty who are struggling to stay afloat.

While you and your administration may be satisfied with the inadequate efforts you have made to help the 24,000 faculty in the CSU and while you may not be concerned about their economic conditions, CFA is concerned. We take our direction from the faculty. They want us to fight for economic justice for them and their families so that they can continue to do the work they love—helping the students in the California State University achieve success.

That is a task that we are more than willing to undertake because it is the right thing to do. We do, indeed, intend to fight vigorously against the Race to the Bottom that the administration is leading and that is causing such hardship and suffering. Faculty, their families and their students deserve no less.

Sincerely,

Lillian Taiz

President, California Faculty Association

Commands