“Management cites a 20% fall in enrollment to justify laying off 40% of lecturer faculty. These cuts seem far out of scale and appear to be retaliatory for our union organizing,” said CFA San Francisco Chapter President Brad Erickson.
At an August presentation to the San Francisco State Budget Committee, Provost Amy Sueyoshi outlined a plan to make up for a projected budget shortfall by slashing lecturer faculty positions. Starting in the spring, administrators propose to cut 125 full-time equivalent positions which would result in the layoff of approximately 325 of the 1,084 mostly part-time lecturers across the university. Lecturers faculty make up 60-percent of the university’s faculty.
The presentation also outlined cuts of 23 full-time tenure-track faculty, and six full-time staff positions.
The overwhelming sentiment from CFA members organizing on the ground is that these actions are retaliation for urging faculty to sign commit cards in support of our transformative bargaining proposals.
The response from members has been a surge of fury and organizing.
“We believe that the CSU management is violating our labor rights and acting in a destructive way towards organized campuses,” said Erickson. “We won’t be silenced, we are getting louder!”
At a September 11 chapter meeting, more than 100 members came ready to voice their anger and resolve. They are determined to organize in response to what they felt was a management tactic of intimidation. Members are planning protests and other meetings. There is also a petition being circulated opposing the cuts. Chapter leaders are reaching out to elected officials and union leaders to ask them to join in solidarity to oppose the cuts. In anticipation of the strike authorization vote there will be two statewide Strike Ready School workshops on October 12 and 19 that will provide a framework for union activism.
Along with the layoffs, the plan calls for canceling over 650 classes. Many CFA San Francisco members have already noted a lack of classes in the spring calendar.
“I am bombarded by emails from colleagues, they have no classes,” said Ali Kashani, CFA San Francisco vice-president, lecturer faculty in Philosophy. “Over 300 lecturer faculty are about to lose their jobs and health care because of the cuts at SF State.”
Erickson is a lecturer in the school of liberal studies where he is seeing firsthand the severity of the cuts. “Colleagues have been told that there is nothing for them in the spring.”
A sudden loss of so many courses will make it difficult for students to graduate on time. Coupled with the recent CSU trustees’ vote for a 34-percent increase in tuition by 2028-29, these administrative decisions will disproportionally impact those who identify as Black, brown, immigrant, low-income, and/or first-generation college students.
Lecturer faculty members are noting that there is an uneven distribution among the cuts. For example, the writing program will be unrecognizable since lecturers do most of the instruction. The writing program disproportionately supports first-generation college students. Small programs that distinguish San Francisco State and support the diverse people that make up the university community are at risk of being eliminated.
In the presentation, university management claimed that they are 16-percent below the target enrollment with an accompanying budget deficit of $9 million. In response, Erickson pointed to ballooning administrative bloat and increasingly excessive managerial positions and salaries as reasons for the budget deficit.
“Instead of investing in classroom education, they are siphoning off billions into cash investments and reserves.” Erickson said.
Due to the abrupt announcement, many faculty are facing the possibility of leaving the Bay area, their lives, and communities due to the unaffordability of the region. For some, what lies ahead feels daunting. However, in organizing conversations, Chapter Membership Chair Blanca Missé reminds colleagues that now more than ever it’s important to “fight the cuts, get active with the union. “
“Organizing protects our working conditions. We organized to win in 2020 and will continue to do so,” said Missé, a French professor at San Francisco State
In anticipation of CFA’s strike authorization vote, Missé reminds colleagues that “the only thing that is going to make administrators step back is if we organize a powerful strike. When we go on strike, we are defending access to quality, public higher education.”