Magazine Article

CSU faculty to conduct a strike vote this April

CSU Faculty on Strike

The California Faculty Association’s Board of Directors has called for a CFA strike vote to be held in April on the faculty’s successor contract that is now in mediation.

The vote will take place in person on campuses either the week of April 16 or April 23. Electronic voting will begin April 16 and end April 27. Please contact your CFA chapter for specific details about voting on your campus. (See to find your CFA chapter.)

Our last faculty contract ended June 30, 2010 and we have been at the table bargaining over a successor agreement for more than 18 months. When we first sat down with management, CFA’s Bargaining Team proposed that the current contract be extended and that we spend our time working together to fight for more money from Sacramento.

Management refused. Collaboration was not what they had in mind. Instead we got only proposals that harm the faculty in the form of takeaways from what is already in our contract.

The Stakes In These Contract Talks

Some of the takeaways from our contract the Chancellor wants include:

More power for campus presidents. Increase the authority of campus presidents over evaluations, approval of sabbaticals, retention of lecturers, and order of layoff.

Move more classes to the CSU’s For- Profit arms & pay faculty less for them. Move more classes (lots more classes!) into Extended Education/Continuing Education and pay faculty who teach them less than they earn to teach the same class in regular sessions.

Fewer rights for faculty in the For- Profit arms. Reduce the rights of faculty who develop courses in regular session to teach them when they are moved to Extended Education. Take away Lecturer preference-for-work rights when courses are moved from state support to self support. Limit summer employment article protections to state-supported summer sessions only.

No limits on class sizes. Refuse to limit the huge increases in workload that faculty have experienced, particularly through increased class sizes. No raises and threats of higher benefit costs.

No General Salary Increases or Service Salary Increases for faculty for 2010/11 and 2011/12, and reopeners for wages and benefits the next three academic years. The reopeners could be to reduce current wages. Equity raises would go back to the old system of individuals begging their campus presidents.

And lots of other takeaways.

For the most part, their proposals have not changed during the full 18 months CFA’s Bargaining Team has been at the table.

CFA has made proposals for improvements for faculty in the areas of workload, sabbatical, parental leave and academic freedom. We also have proposed full payment of Service Step Increases, equity pay, maintenance of health benefits and a 1% GSI—a fair proposal.

Management Won’t Budge In 18 Months Of Contract Talks

“The purpose of a collective bargaining agreement,” says CFA Bargaining Team chair Andy Merrifield, “is to have stable labor relations based on pursuing mutual interests by bargaining in good faith.

But now, Merrifield says, “The attitude of CSU management in this bargaining cycle has been explicitly different. The Chancellor’s people have made it clear they seek to increase their power by demanding flexibility in a great many aspects of the agreement. And they are not budging one bit while basically ignoring everything we have proposed or sought to modify in the least.

“In 2007, the faculty voted to authorize a strike, and eventually we were able to win an excellent contract without having to actually strike. In 2011 we took oneday strikes at two campuses, and sent a strong message—this union can deliver when it sets out to do something.

“We are now in mediation. “Hopefully we can hammer out an agreement there. But based on our past experiences with this chancellor’s bargaining practices, we have to prepare for the worst and escalate the pressure.”

The Move To A Strike Vote

On February 20, CFA’s Board of Directors called for a membership strike vote in April regarding the successor contract. CFA members will be asked to authorize a series of two-day strikes that would “roll” among the 23 CSU campuses.

In consultation with chapter leaders, the CFA Board of Directors would determine which campuses would strike and when. Depending on the status of bargaining, these strikes could occur at the end of this spring term or next academic year, unless we reach an agreement in the meantime.

Under the law we can strike at the end of the statutory process (impasse, mediation and factfinding). The Chancellor can impose his last offer and the faculty can withhold their labor by striking. In order to be prepared, April is the best time to vote—after spring break and before exams.

Leslie Bryan, a CFA Bargaining Team member and CFA Associate VP says, “The best way to avoid a strike is to prepare for one. Our faculty deserve a fair contract. The take-backs currently on the table in the contract talks are just unacceptable.”

She adds, “It will take strong faculty action to change the Chancellor’s attitude.”