San Diego CFA Chapter Statement re Campus-based Equity program
Good first step, but more salary relief is needed

We are pleased that President Hirshman has taken the step of releasing details of the campus-based Equity program.  When President Hirshman and CFA issued a Joint Statement last Fall announcing an SDSU Equity program, he became the first CSU campus president to agree to CFA’s call for campus-based Equity.  President Hirshman is now also the first CSU president to actually begin implementing campus-based Equity.  We wish to commend the President for his leadership and for working with CFA on this issue. 

We also want to make note of the collaborative spirit in which President Hirshman consulted with CFA on the Equity program.  In the months since our Joint Statement announcing the program, he has been willing to engage in open and direct meetings with me about how to structure the Equity program.  In response to concerns that we raised, President Hirshman close-to-doubled the amount of funding that he is applying to the Equity program, and we appreciate that movement on his part.  We also appreciate that President Hirshman agreed with our recommendation that the program be retroactive to July 1, 2014, rather than the later date that had been under consideration.  Although the President has the ultimate authority to decide the structure and funding of the program, he was willing to make these changes.

Having noted this collaborative spirit, CFA shared with President Hirshman in our discussions the specific reasons why this program does not go far enough in providing salary relief for the faculty.  We wish to share those reasons with you as well.

To be sure, the SDSU Equity program is a good first step.  It is only a first step, however, for two primary reasons: 1) the program does not commit enough funds, nor cover enough faculty members, to provide adequate salary relief, and 2) the program does not directly or sufficiently address Salary Inversion, which should have been a major focus of any Equity program. 

Funding and coverage are insufficient

Plain and simple, the administration’s program needs more funding.  The increases in the program are simply not large enough to address the systematic underfunding of faculty salaries.  Given San Diego State’s singular position in the CSU, our nation-wide reputation, and the strength of donor support, it should have been possible to make the SDSU faculty a higher budget priority. 

CFA’s proposal would have provided larger increases, and would have provided those increases to all faculty members.  All faculty members are in need of salary relief and all faculty members should have been included in the program.  Under the administration’s program, as an example, a faculty member with 20 years of service on our campus will receive nothing if he or she were promoted in the last 1-2 years.  (CFA cited this example to President Hirshman, during our discussions, as a problem that needed to be fixed, but he declined to make an adjustment.)  Under CFA’s proposal, a faculty member with 20 years of service would have received a 5% longevity increase. 

(You can view CFA’s Equity proposal, presented to President Hirshman in December, in the link on this webpage.

The CFA proposal utilized a point-based system to determine a faculty member’s Equity increase.  Faculty members could be credited with up to three points, and CFA suggested that each point should be worth a five percent salary increase.  In a best-case scenario under the CFA proposal, a faculty member could earn up to a 15 percent increase.)

Program fails to address Salary Inversion

The administration’s program does not directly address Salary Inversion, and this is a major deficiency of the program. (Salary Inversion is when new hires are brought in at higher rates of pay than longer-term faculty.) CFA cited to President Hirshman the example of the Biology department, where many faculty members suffer Salary Inversion, and this problem exists in many other departments as well.  Under the administration’s program, there is no specific relief for these individuals and, in some instances, the Inversion problem may actually be made worse. 

CFA’s Equity proposal specifically addressed Salary Inversion, with affected faculty members receiving an additional 5-10 percent salary increase.  Salary Inversion relief was entirely possible; the cost estimate that CFA presented to President Hirshman to address Salary Inversion for tenure-track faculty under CFA’s proposal was about $613,000.  Again, a campus of SDSU’s stature and resources should have been able to make this a priority.

Going forward — Reopener Salary Bargaining and additional Equity

Coming up later this Spring, CFA will demand “Reopener” bargaining with the Chancellor on faculty salary for 2015-16 and 2016-17.  As you recall, CFA would not agree last Fall to the Chancellor’s salary proposal for those two years.  CFA believes that the Chancellor’s proposal was too low, and CFA and the CSU administration agreed that the faculty salary levels for those years would be subject to Reopener bargaining, beginning May 1, 2015.  You will hear more from us in the coming weeks regarding the Reopener, but obviously this is a major priority for all of us.

And going forward, we will propose to President Hirshman an additional round of campus-based Equity increases and look forward to those discussions with him.

In the end, the administration’s Equity program falls short of what we had pushed for.  It is, however, a step in the right direction, and we commend President Hirshman for working with us in taking that step.