Lecturers to the Chancellor’s Office: “Can’t Live Without Us….So Don’t Abuse Us”
by Lois Boulgarides

Can’t earn a dime…..
Students can’t graduate on time
But administration’s doing just fine!”
From a Banner at a CSUS Student/Lecturer Rally 2009

When I think of the lecturers’ situation at the CSU lately, I am reminded of the banner carried by a lecturer who had just lost all of her classes, but still came to a rally at Sac State to support students and faculty. Students and lecturers have a lot in common. Both have very little power over the decisions that affect their lives, and both sit at the heart of the university. In 2009, we were desperately trying to prevent loss of lecturers. Furloughs were proposed by the Chancellor’s Office with the promise that lecturer jobs would be saved. Even though furloughs may have delayed the loss of some lecturer jobs it did not stem the tide, and with over 200 lecturers lost, we have seen an incredible increase of class size, and the cutting of many classes. The result has been delayed graduation, larger class sizes, less student-faculty interaction, and increased workload for all faculty. The banner poignantly observed that the work of lecturers is intimately connected to the student experience.

The Chancellor’s bargaining team is now proposing takebacks that would dramatically curtail lecturer rights and job security that CFA has fought long and hard to achieve. Currently, a lecturer who has worked for 6 consecutive years is now given a 3-year appointment, which offers a small amount of job security to lecturers who are lucky enough to meet the 6 year time frame. By eliminating 3-year appointments, CSU Administrators would have the ability to easily terminate lecturers who have put in years of service to the university in the name of “scheduling flexibility”. But this flexibility would come with the cost of further disenfranchising 45% of CSU Faculty Members.

A stable lecturer workforce is good for students, who can build relationships with their teachers, and benefit from the academic consistency this allows. A stable lecturer workforce is good for departments, for they benefit from lecturers who become a part of the culture of the department, assist in curriculum development and committee work, and help to give consistent information and advice to students. The security provided when lecturers are allowed to become a valued part of the department is humane to the lecturers and respectful to those professionals that the department has deemed qualified to teach CSU students.

Chancellor Reed has a history of trying to break faculty unions and eliminate tenure. The CFA has been strong enough to resist the efforts of Reed because the unique combination of lecturers and tenure track faculty makes the CFA larger and stronger than two separate unions would be. Be assured that taking away lecturer rights is the first step toward using the budget crisis to chisel away at the rights of tenure track faculty. Like the canary in the coal mine, if lecturer rights are weakened, the next to lose will likely be tenured and probationary employees. History shows that “united we stand, and divided we fall”. With the lessons of the labor movement in mind, the CFA bargaining team will be working hard preserve the rights of ALL CSU faculty.