The bargaining culture in the CSU must improve

The following was presented to the California State University Board of Trustees at their regular meeting on September 25, 2013.


September 25, 2013

Good Morning. First, I’d like to say that we appreciate the willingness of Chancellor White to complete the Equity Year Two program, at long last, and also to put some money on the table for employee raises. These are important gestures which are appreciated.

With reopener bargaining behind us and successor bargaining looming ahead, we have some observations for moving forward; most importantly, we believe that CSU bargaining culture MUST change.

In the CSU we have gone to impasse (which can lead to imposition & strike) nearly every time we have gone to the bargaining table. Indeed, when we sit down on day one, it almost seems inevitable that we will find ourselves at this contentious final process.

This tradition needs to change and the only way to do it is to build a better bargaining culture. The previous administration brought in consultants ostensibly to help change the culture and while there were some modest improvements there is still a long way to go.

The level of mistrust and rancor that has resulted from the slippery slope to impasse makes building a common vision within our system extremely difficult.

It must be remembered that CSU faculty fought for and won a great contract in 2007 only to see half of the promised raises zeroed out in the face of budget cuts. Many faculty still feel ripped off. They fought for and won raises that never materialized. For them, the university still “owes” them.

There are also too many folks that have worked for the CSU for 6 or 7 years but have NEVER received a raise; there are others who have waited equally long and can feel themselves sliding out of the middle class as the cost of everything it takes to have a life goes up but their pay does not. There is a huge reservoir of impatience to improve their situations. 

In the meantime, they have soldiered on—teaching more and more students, lashing together a quality education with bailing wire and bubble gum. They have taken extra students into their already overcrowded classes, supervised countless students unrewarded, mentored and cajoled students who are struggling –because they believe in what they are doing.

But their patience has worn thin, young faculty cannot afford to live and raise their families in California—many are simply giving up and moving away.

The $80 a month that we bargained for them in reopeners MUST be seen as a TINY down payment on the kind of investment that this system needs to make in all of its employees.

Make no mistake about it; our faculty and staff who, at great personal sacrifice, have worked so hard not to let our students down during this terrible economic crisis will work equally hard not to let their own families down.

Some of you may know about a national campaign that is running right now to win fast food workers $15 per hour or around $32,000 per year. What does it say about this university system that we would have a faculty salary structure that allows us to hire PhD holding Lecturer faculty at $29,000 per year? [1000 of them were hired at this rate this year alone.]

We need to replace the bubblegum and bailing wire we’ve used to hold this institution together; for the people who make it happen we need to make education and hard work pay off with a secure place in the middle class. 

We look forward to building on the recent reopener experience and developing a new bargaining culture for the CSU. We hope that is a goal that all of you share.