FAQ: Tentative Agreement April 2016

Answers to many of the questions faculty are asking about the Tentative Contract Agreement can be found here.

If you don’t see your question, feel free to email

Q1: How much and when?

Faculty will see a 10.5% increase within a 366-day span beginning June 30, 2016 through the implementation of scheduled General Salary Increases (GSIs).  

Additionally, if you are below the maxima in your range or rank, you will receive an additional 2.65% in 2017-18 on your anniversary date in the form of a Service Salary Increase (SSI).

In specific terms, we agreed to the following terms:

All Faculty Unit Employees on active pay status, or on leave, June 30, 2016 will receive at 11.59 PM a 5% General Salary Increase.

All Faculty Unit Employees on active pay status, or on leave, July 1, 2016 will receive a 2% General Salary Increase.

All Faculty Unit Employees on active pay status, or on leave, July 1, 2017 will receive a 3.5% General Salary Increase.

There shall be a 2.65% SSI during FY 2017-18 effective on the eligible Faculty Unit Employee’s anniversary date.

Effective July 1, 2016, the minimum increase on promotion pursuant to Article 31.5 shall be increased from 7.5% to 9%.  

All minima, maxima, and SSI maxima will be raised by the amount of the GSI at the time awarded.

Q2: Who is eligible?

All faculty—tenure-line, lecturers, counselors, librarians, and coaches—are eligible for the raises in this settlement. 

In the course of negotiating the settlement, CSU administrators assured us that they will take the same approach to implementation as they did in 2014 for GSIs. If you are on active status on July 1, 2016 you are eligible for the increase.

Individuals who hold Unit 3 appointments this year (2015-16), but are not active or on leave on July 1, 2016 are eligible for the GSI at the time of reappointment, if reappointed into the same class and range at the same campus in the next academic year (2016-17). In other words, you must work this year and next to be eligible for the 2016 increases.

Employees appointed after July 1, 2016 must be hired at a salary no lower than the new range/rank minima but will not otherwise receive the raises.

Given the timing of our settlement and implementation, faculty hired in Fall 2015 are eligible.

Q3: How did we get the agreement?

In short, with the help of supporters and allies, we worked really hard. We began by surveying our members and studying the salary issues in the CSU and writing about our findings and analyses in the Race to the Bottom series. In our own words, and backed up by data, we were certain that CSU faculty had fallen behind when compared to other educators and state employees before, during, and after the recession. 

As we went through the statutory bargaining process, our members voted 94% to go on strike if bargaining failed. When we prevailed in factfinding, the final stage in the statutory bargaining process, receiving a favorable recommendation from a neutral factfinder, members felt even more emboldened in their resolve to strike if necessary to get a better deal than the 2% offered by management. 

Not surprisingly, the Chancellor and Board of Trustees began to respond to the pressure from students, legislators, faculty, and other Californians. With intensified interest, the Chancellor expressed a new willingness to find a solution and enter into a conversation with CFA about how to balance the needs of faculty, the public interest in carrying out the mission of the CSU, and financial limitations they argued exist due to the funding issues faced by the CSU for so many years.

Q4: How soon do we go back to the bargaining table?

With the extension we agreed to in settling the salary dispute, our contract now expires on June 30, 2018 instead of June 30, 2017.

We also agreed to begin bargaining earlier in the budget cycle so that the Chancellor and Board of Trustees can make budget requests to the state legislature AFTER and not BEFORE bargaining with us. That means that we will go back to the table to begin bargaining a new Collective Bargaining Agreement including salary, in July 2017.

Q5: What does it mean to extend the contract?

It means that the terms of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement remain in effect for an additional year. Two provisions that address workload relief —Articles 20.36 and 20.37, by providing weighted teaching units/compensation for probationary faculty (to perform research and scholarship) and faculty performing exceptional levels of service for students—have been explicitly extended so that they will not sunset (i.e. expire) in 2017.

Q6: What if I’m a lecturer who worked in Fall 2015 but not in Spring 2016?

If you worked at all in the 2015-16 Academic Year and come back to the same position in the 2016-17 Academic Year, you will receive the June 30 and July 1, 2016 raises. Next year’s 2017 raises of 3.5% and an SSI will be implemented similarly.

Q7: Is there retroactivity?

To facilitate reaching an agreement, the parties, at the suggestion of the factfinder, worked to spread out this year’s 5% increase in a way that would best allow the budget to absorb it. After many intensive sessions, CSU management would not agree to retroactivity of any portion of the 5%.

While not a perfect solution, we felt that getting 5% with no retroactivity is a far superior deal in the long run than getting 2% with retroactivity. In fact, anyone receiving the compounded 7% total GSI which will start on July 1, 2016 will recoup the amount of a 2% retroactivity in about 3.5 months, and faculty gain financial ground every day after that for the rest of their careers.

This approach also meant we could include new faculty hired in Fall 2015 who helped so much in our organizing efforts to get a good deal.

Q8: What is an SSI, and why are they scheduled for 2017-18?

Service Salary Increases (SSIs) are similar to salary steps in other job settings. They allow for salary progression within range/rank and have historically been set at 2.65%.

All tenure-line faculty and temporary faculty who have worked 24 WTUs on semester campuses (or 36 WTUs on quarter campuses) who are below the SSI max are eligible to receive SSIs. See Articles 12.10 and 31.17 to 31.24 for more.

CSU management has not paid SSIs since 2007-08, and as a consequence many long-term faculty have suffered salary stagnation. The CSU administration was adamant that while they would pay an SSI, they would not do it during the period covered by the “me too” agreements. We felt that it was critical that the faculty have an SSI during this contract and so agreed to have it paid in the last year.

Q9: Why couldn’t we get more? 

The CSU management’s original offer for the 2015-16 reopener was 2%, and all signs were that the next year’s reopener offer would also be 2%.

CSU management remained committed to only a 2% GSI for this year until after the factfinder’s report came out. Fueled by the report, we parlayed the power that we generated by our organizing for the strike, and cultivating political and community pressure to leverage at the bargaining table when CSU management was finally ready to negotiate. 

We moved their original offer to 5%, 2%, 3.5% and an SSI. This agreement reflects significant salary recovery after years of stagnant wages and lost purchasing power. We know that faculty deserve more than this and we will all continue the fight in our next contract.

Q10: How will our contract affect staff covered by the “me too” clauses?

Several staff contracts for 2014-17 included “me too” language indicating that staff employees in those units would get a compensation increase similar to anything that CFA negotiated. Those unions will now be able to negotiate with CSU management about how to implement augmentations to staff salary. 

We were not part of the negotiations that resulted in the “me too” language, and we will not be part of any subsequent negotiations on implementation of that language.  Thus we cannot predict how those raises may be negotiated or implemented or what the results will be.

Q11: What’s the process? What does ratification mean? Who can vote?

The CFA Bargaining Team unanimously recommended this Tentative Agreement to the CFA Board of Directors, who also unanimously recommended it to the CFA membership for ratification. 

CFA members will vote on ratification during the period of April 22, 2016 through April 29, 2016 in online balloting. The vote results will be announced on May 3, 2016, and the CSU Board of Trustees will take a ratification vote at their meetings on May 24-25, 2016.

Assuming these ratification votes are in the affirmative, the contract will come into effect at that time. Only CFA active members can vote to ratify the Tentative Agreement.

Q12: When will I see a change in my paycheck?

If ratification proceeds as expected, the CSU Board of Trustees will vote to ratify the new contract at their meetings of May 24 and 25, 2016. CSU management will notify the State Controller’s Office, which typically needs 60 to 90 days to process the payroll changes. As of June 30, 2016, CSU management informed CFA that the payday would be August 1.

Q13: What if I teach in extension?

Article 40 of our contract ensures that all General Salary Increases included in the new contract will be granted to those who teach in extension at the same rates and on the same calendar schedule.

Q14: How does our contract compare to other contracts around the state?

This agreement on salary is comparable to or better than what other public education unions in California have bargained recently. For instance, K-12 teachers in Los Angeles settled a three-year contract for 2014-16 that included a 10% pay increase.

Settlements in several Community College districts, such as Chabot-Las Positas in the East Bay similarly came in at 10% over three years. The University of California system announced a 3% increase for 2015-16, the first general wage increase for UC faculty for several years. In broader context, the Seattle K-12 teachers went on strike for five days last year and settled a contract that included 9.5% over three years

Q15: Do Fall 2015 hires get the 5%?

Yes. The raises apply to all faculty employees who are on active pay status or on leave as of June 30, 2016 and July 1, 2016. So those hired in Fall 2015 or Spring 2016 will receive the raises, as long as they will continue to work for the CSU moving forward.

Q16: How does this affect new hires?

Although the raises only apply to those on active pay status at the time the raises are scheduled, new hires may see changes in several ways. First, the salary minima and maxima will rise with the GSIs, so if a new hire is hired at the minimum for his or her range, he or she will see an increase in the same amount as the GSIs.

For those not hired at the minimum, the Dean of the hiring College has the ability to include these raises in a revised letter of offer. Newly hired faculty can attempt to negotiate for their revised hiring letters to include such language.

CSU administrators should be encouraged to do right by new faculty and re-negotiate starting salaries in light of the settlement, and we fully expect that many will do so.

Q17: How does this contract affect inversion and compression?

No single contract can fix the deep problems in our salary structure, which include inversion and compression, among others.  

We have argued consistently that the lack of regular SSIs is the primary culprit in our current problems with compression and inversion. We advocated strongly an SSI in 2015-16, and after not receiving an SSI since 2007-08, we were able to negotiate one for 2017-18.  

We recognized that to prevent stagnation for all faculty, we needed some consistent and hearty GSIs as well, hence the “Fight for Five.” To prevent stagnation for lecturer faculty, CFA proposed a path to fix the Range Elevation policy

Q18: Is campus-based equity still an option?

Yes, campus presidents can still consult with CFA representatives to create campus-based equity programs. Campus-based equity is articulated in Article 31.12, and is now extended a year to the end of the contract, June 30, 2018.

Q19: What is the increase in promotion minimums?

Effective July 1, 2016 the new minimum increase upon promotion will be 9%, increased from 7.5%. This is a minimum increase, and faculty can still ask for more than the minimum. This new minimum includes faculty who went up for promotion during the 2015-16 cycle.

Q20: How will Range Elevation change?

We don’t know exactly how it will change, but that it will change effective 2017. Both parties are committed to amending the policy so that it will no longer have the effect of trapping lecturer faculty in range because they do not accumulate SSIs.

The CFA and CSU management will form a Working Group to study the problem and develop a resolution. We have scheduled several dates over the summer to work on this issue.

If the working group is unable to find a solution by March 1, 2017, the parties agree to submit the issue(s) to binding interest arbitration for contractual changes to be implemented in the 2017-18 Academic Year. The arbitration process will assure that a new policy will be in place by Fall 2017.

This working group shall not be charged with modifying Range Elevation Evaluation policies, as those policies are developed at the campus level through governance processes.

Q21: What changed in terms of retiree medical vesting?

Faculty unit employees hired on or after July 1, 2017 shall receive full health benefits upon retirement at age 52 with at least 10 years of service credit instead of 5 years of service credit. This change does not apply to current employees.

Q22: How is the Tentative Agreement different from what they offered us to start with?

Prior to the release of the factfinding report, CSU management remained committed to their offer of a 2% GSI for 2015-16 and a 2% GSI for 2016-17 with no SSIs. This was the same offer that was rejected at the bargaining table in 2014 when we settled the whole contract, and these low offers set the stage for the reopeners on Article 31.

Instead, this Tentative Agreement will provide a 5% GSI, a 2% GSI, and a 3.5% GSI in the span of about 14 months.

Q23: Why didn’t we strike to try and get more?

The purpose of preparing to strike was put pressure on the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees to revise their plan to give us only a 2% GSI for 2015-16 and to come back to the negotiating table. 

The pressure that the faculty created worked, and we secured both the 5% GSI that we had campaigned for, two additional GSIs, an SSI in 2017-18, and two other provisions that will serve to increase faculty salaries. 

The object of the campaign was to secure a fair settlement for the faculty and a meaningful raise. Together we accomplished those goals without the loss of pay and disruption that a strike would have generated.  

Q24: What about contingencies?

There are no contingencies built into this agreement beyond what are required by law. The contingency language in Article 41.3 echoes language in the Higher Education Employer-Employees Relations Act (HEERA) and has been in the collective bargaining agreement for decades. Like all state employees, our contracts are subject to the state budget.

Due to the change we just won in the bargaining and budget request calendar, the Chancellor will have to go to the legislature with a specific budget request to honor our contract.

That means that we can lobby the legislature to honor that request and, if they are forced to reduce some aspect of the CSU budget, they can reduce something other than our compensation.

Q25: How does this affect faculty who are planning to retire or FERP?

Assuming that anyone nearing retirement currently is a “classic” 2%@55 years of age faculty employee, the following pertains:

Anyone who retires before July 1, 2016 will receive none of the 7.1% compounded two raises, neither in his or her pension nor in the final base salary on which his or her FERP salary is based.

However, those retiring before July 1, 2016, and participating in FERP will receive these raises in their salary for their work as FERP faculty after July 1, 2016. 

Even though pension amounts are not affected for faculty who are retired before July 1, 2016 or for faculty already participating in FERP, FERP salaries will increase by the amount of the GSIs.

Anyone who retires after July 1, 2016 but before August 1, 2016, will receive a 1/12th boost to his or her pension, but the full increase in the FERP salary.

Anyone who retires after August 1, 2016 but before the start of the Fall 2016 term will receive a 2/12ths boost to his or her pension, and the full increase FERP salary.

Q26: What’s next?

The CFA membership has voted to ratify the Tentative Agreement.

The CSU Board of Trustees will vote on the agreement at their meeting on May 24-25.

In preparation for negotiating our next contract, CFA is committed to building power by increasing our membership. We begin negotiating the successor contract July 1, 2017.

CFA remains committed to supporting students in their fight against new student fees and cuts to academic programs and other student services.   

CFA also will continue to work on campaigns for economic justice for workers across the state.