Housing for students and faculty and police reforms are among CFA’s legislative victories this session.

Over the past week, three of CFA’s sponsored and co-sponsored bills were signed into law, marking our union’s continued success statewide with enacting anti-racism and social justice laws strengthening higher education.

Two women holding a child and diaper bag stand for a photo.
(from left to right) Margarita Berta-Ávila, CFA AVP, North, and Alma Itzé Flores, assistant professor of undergraduate studies in education at Sacramento State.

Sen. Scott Wiener authored Senate Bill 886, which expands much-needed student, faculty, and staff housing on campus-owned lands. The now-law excludes student and faculty and staff housing projects from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) definition section, allowing the California State University, University of California, and community colleges to build and bolster student and faculty housing. This is a major win, as housing shortages continue to plague the state, with increasing stories of our students and colleagues unhoused, disproportionately impacting faculty of color and first generation and students of color. Thank you, Sen. Wiener, and your colleagues in the Senate and Assembly for their vote for student success.

Two police accountability bills will soon be law: Assembly Bill 655 and Assembly Bill 1997.

Authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, AB 665 will finally track police officers affiliated with hate groups. The law requires background investigation for peace officer candidates, which includes an inquiry into whether that person participated in any hate group activity or publicly expressed advocacy of hate.

AB 1997, authored by Assemblymember Mike Gipson, is a CSU-centric bill, which came out of our most recent round of bargaining. It forces the CSU system to study options to campus emergency response programs and convene a workgroup including faculty, staff, students, and unions. Then, the workgroup will submit a report with recommendations to the legislature and the Chancellor’s Office nine months after the first meeting.

When advocating for the signing of this bill, Sharon Elise, CFA associate vice president of Racial & Social Justice, South, and CSU San Marcos professor said last month, “Students, faculty, and staff on the campuses of the CSU system, particularly persons of color, have reported that they do not feel safe. There are increasing reports of BIPOC students, faculty, and staff being treated unfairly and harassed by armed campus police.”

Both laws are needed, and we thank Assemblymembers Kalra and Gipson for their tireless efforts to reform policing in California.

Unfortunately, not all our bills were signed this year, and as with his last-minute funding slash for the CSU budget, Governor Gavin Newsom has done it again. The Governor vetoed our parental support bill, Assembly Bill 2464, and CSUEU’s staff salary increases bill, Senate Bill 410.

AB 2464 would have corrected long-standing wrongs and expanded paid parental leave for CSU workers. The bill would have required the CSU to provide one semester of paid parental leave for workers following the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child. Currently, faculty receive 30 days of paid leave, nowhere near the doctor-recommended 12 weeks needed to bond with and care for children.

“Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Governor Newsom is unwilling to provide the same parental care, leave, or support he claims to champion in his polished press releases,” said Margarita Berta-Ávila, CFA associate vice president, North, Sacramento State professor, and member of CFA’s Parents and Caregivers Coalition. “In vetoing AB 2464, the governor is complicit in continuing long-standing inequities at the CSU.

“Faculty from across the state have shared horror stories about grading students’ assignments while in labor and returning to work just days after adopting or giving birth. This outrage must stop.”

CFA has tremendous appreciation for Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who authored AB 2464.

Newsom continued his neglect for higher education workers as he vetoed a bill that would have ensured much needed salary increases for CSU staff. SB 410 would have made the CSU create a nine-step merit salary system for non-faculty employees, including annual 5-percent increases for staff members’ first five years, three separate 5-percent increases every two years, and a final increase three years later.

CSU staff are overwhelmingly underpaid and its unconscionable that the CSU advocated against their employees and that Newsom acquiesced.

Our work is far from over. We are committed to continue our legislative advocacy next year for better paid parental leave for faculty, our families, and our students. We will continue to support our staff colleagues in their pursuit for earned and deserved salary step increases.

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