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Time for Action: Demand Faculty COVID-19 Leave Now

Dear Colleagues,

We reached out to you last week about our plans to meet with management on the CSU’s Fall 2021 planning and paid administrative leave for working families in the CSU. Thank you to all of you who let us know your thoughts.

In our meeting with management, we reviewed the impact of repopulating our campuses on faculty and student health and safety, and the safety of our campus communities and began a dialogue that will hopefully inform the next steps in planning. Hope is the operative word, as nothing is clear in these changing times. Nevertheless, the CSU is well aware that faculty expect certain health and safety benchmarks to be firmly in place before returning to work on the campuses. Faculty need to be assured that vaccines have been made available to everyone in our campus communities, and that there must be clarity on prevention and outbreak protocols. Presently, there is unevenness across the campuses and a lack of direction and guidance from the system.

We are less hopeful about the CSU’s commitment to extend COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave (CPAL) or similar leave program. Despite our best efforts to describe the need and rationale, the CSU is unwilling to act at this time. Even though the semester has already started on several campuses, and will begin next week on most others, there is still time to offer real relief to faculty who need to take leave. There are lecturers and temporary faculty with less than full-time appointments (many of whom have lost work this year) who could take on additional work at a moment’s notice. 

In other words, there is widespread interest and support from faculty to make a leave program work.

The pandemic is ongoing and many CSU faculty members are working from home alongside their children and other dependents, often without access to school and childcare. This problem is felt nationally, with significant and harmful impacts on women and single parents. The December job report demonstrates the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women, and closed schools and lack of access to childcare are part of the reason so many women have dropped out of the workforce. Chancellor Joseph I. Castro has an opportunity to ensure gender equality in the CSU by extending paid leave programs so that working families can manage all the demands placed on them right now.

 Unfortunately, Chancellor Castro has failed to give direction to his labor relations staff, who continue to resist agreement to terms with the union.

Nevertheless, we will persist.

We are asking that you join us: sign on to this fight for all faculty. Whether you’re impacted directly as parents, as colleagues, or as people willing to stand up for what’s right, we’re calling on you to help out. We need you to raise the issue directly with CSU’s administrators and the Chancellor.

CFA created this web form and we need you to fill it out. This will help us reach you for direct action in support of COVID-19 leave for faculty who need it. Even remotely, there are ways to come together and show this Chancellor that we’re ready for him to work for us. We’re asking for your non-CSU email address and your cell phone number so that we can reach you if we need you to act quickly, your Twitter handle (if you have one), and any ideas you have about how to get the Chancellor to make the CSU a workplace that supports parents and families. As always, the information you share with your union is for internal CFA use only.

In addition, we are hoping that you will email Chancellor Castro directly at jcastro@calstate.edu, telling him it is vital that the CSU again offer CPAL or a similar leave program. Here is a template for the email, and you should add to it your personal story:

Chancellor Castro,

As a faculty member at the California State University, I am calling on you to commit to an extension of the COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave (CPAL) or similar leave program. Cases and hospitalizations continue to increase across our communities, and the lack of leadership from you and CSU management in regard to COVID-19 leave protection for myself and my colleagues is alarming. Even as the semester begins, there is still time for you to offer real relief to faculty who need it. We call on you to implement another leave program and demonstrate bold leadership through this difficult time.

Thank you for all you do in the CSU and in support of faculty and students.

If you haven’t become a member of CFA yet, you can sign up here. Your membership allows CFA to continue our diligent work protecting faculty health, safety, and contract rights.

In union, 

Charles Toombs, CFA President   
Kevin Wehr, CFA Vice President  
Diane Blair, CFA Secretary   
Susan Green, CFA Treasurer   
Leslie Bryan, CFA Associate Vice President, Lecturers, South   
Meghan O’Donnell, CFA Associate Vice President, Lecturers, North 
Darel Engen, CFA Associate Vice President, South
Margarita Berta-Ávila, CFA Associate Vice President, North   
Sharon Elise, CFA Associate Vice President, Racial & Social Justice, South  
Chris Cox, CFA Associate Vice President, Racial & Social Justice, North