CFA’s Demands for Fall 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this note finds you, your family, and your friends well as we head into month three of physical and social distancing.

Last week gave us much to digest in terms of news about California’s 2020-21 budget outlook and CSU planning for distance learning and program delivery in Fall 2020.  As the Chancellor’s Office and campus administrations prepare guidelines for re-opening certain segments of the nation’s largest higher education system this fall, CFA is providing some best practices to protect faculty, students, and staff.

University campuses are designed to bring people together, not to keep them apart. On-campus, in-person instruction under rules of “social distancing” poses a unique set of challenges for the CSU. Meeting these challenges will require communication, consultation, and flexibility. Faculty know best how to deliver the curriculum and support services under new and changing circumstances; faculty must be given a voice, given a choice, and be empowered and supported during this global health pandemic.

We cannot have our working conditions imposed on us by people who do not teach. Management must consult with the faculty – with CFA on changes in working conditions and with the Academic Senates on curricular issues.

COVID-19 has exposed many systemic inequalities. The last two months have shown disproportionate effects by race, indigeneity, class, and age, with new information on risk continuing to come to light.  These groups of people are precisely the communities that the CSU serves. This public health crisis exacerbates existing inequalities, such as access to Wi-Fi in many communities or employment in stable full-time jobs that include health insurance coverage. We need to ensure we are supporting student enrollment, increasing access to mental health counselors, and providing resources to our immigrant and housing- and food-insecure students and faculty.

As detailed below, the California Faculty Association demands that faculty be provided with safe, healthy, and clean facilities, that they have the necessary technology and equipment, that their workload be reasonable and manageable, and that they be free from retribution or retaliation for exercising their rights.

Health, Safety, and Cleanliness

All areas of campus used for in-person instruction or other faculty work must be cleaned and sanitized on a regular schedule, and between each use. Offices and other multi-user spaces must be marked when last cleaned. Multi-user spaces must be managed on a clear and transparent schedule. Campus Safety Committees must be consulted about health and safety issues. All campus restrooms should be properly stocked with soap and paper towels to encourage the frequent washing of hands necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All employees of the CSU must retain health insurance.  We are especially concerned for lecturer faculty, coaches, and part-time counselors and librarians who are susceptible to losing work, as well as student workers on campus.

Technology, Training, and Equipment

This crisis has exposed a continuing digital divide among both faculty and students, and this inequality falls disproportionately on people of color. This spring, we have seen firsthand that some of our lecturer faculty are lower paid workers and have trouble meeting their technology needs. Many students were relying on campus internet and technology in computer labs that are now shut. Teaching in virtual modes requires specific technological needs; all faculty must have access to the tools they need to do their jobs, including but not limited to mobile computing, software updates, secure electronic document transmission, sufficient internet access, and quality training. 

Both faculty and students need access to healthy ergonomic workspaces, and should self-limit their “screen time” due to health concerns. Faculty, like all workers who are parents, may be taking care of school-aged children who are out of school in part or in whole.  Faculty do not have access to subsidized childcare. Accommodations must be made for parents.


The March 2020 mid-term shift from in-person to virtual teaching and support services delivery was chaotic, unplanned, and, yet in the end, successful due to faculty persistence, dedication, and hard work.  With the announcement of a virtual Fall 2020, faculty have more time and opportunity to train and prepare. The switch to virtual is a clear increase in workload, though this might be variable by individual faculty. The vast majority of faculty, however, are off contract until mid-August 2020 at the earliest.  Campuses must delay the start of classes by an additional week or offer other forms of compensation for faculty to do the work to prepare for Fall 2020 term. Furthermore, virtual work does not mean the lifting of course caps: higher course caps hurt students. In the Fall, we expect that students will need more attention, not less.

Evaluation and Retaliation

Faculty appreciate the offer for training over the summer, but not all faculty will be able to or need to take advantage of this opportunity. No employee should be subject to retaliation or retribution for not participating in training opportunities. Student surveys of teaching effectiveness for Fall term should only be incorporated into personnel files if the faculty member chooses.

Contract Enforcement

CFA will enforce the entire contract, but we expect that Article 12 (Appointment), Article 20 (Workload), and Article 37 (Safety), will be at particular issue in the next year. If faculty don’t feel safe on campus, they should not be forced to work in person. CFA will defend their right to safe working conditions. CFA will protect lecturer work and scrutinize the order of appointment. Faculty must not be forced, cajoled, or shamed into doing uncompensated work. We will defend our contract and our rights as we continue the frontline work of public higher education. If you have any questions or comments, consult your CFA chapter leaders by accessing information here for Northern California campuses and here for South California campuses.

CFA will have a more detailed plan for the 2020-21 Academic Year in the coming week.  It will guide our advocacy work on campuses and at the state Capitol to safeguard the health and safety of faculty, students, and staff; the CSU labor force; and equity and access to the CSU, the People’s University. Other COVID-19 resources can be found on the CFA website here. Help CFA continue to be a united voice for the lecturers, tenure-line faculty, coaches, counselors, and librarians who are keeping the CSU going: if you have not yet joined CFA, please sign up to be a member.  We cannot accomplish this important work without the guidance and support of our members.

We are educational professionals. Faculty of the CSU are committed to assisting our students all the way through to graduation. They are the future of California; we cannot short-change their education. Faculty teaching conditions are student learning conditions, that’s why we won’t compromise on these issues. We owe it to ourselves and to our students.

In union,
Charles Toombs, Ph.D.
President, California Faculty Association
Department of Africana Studies
San Diego State University