Why Politics?

Why is CFA involved in state politics? This question is frequently asked by faculty. Some faculty think politics is not the union’s “job” or the union loses more than it gains when it takes positions that may conflict with individual, and sometimes popular, choices.

More and more faculty, however, are beginning to recognize that the conditions under which we teach–everything from our salaries to class size–are often greatly influenced by decisions made in the legislature or in the Governor’s office. The role of state politics in the determination of the CSU budget is perhaps the most obvious reason we must be politically involved and effective. With the vast majority of our funds coming from the state, faculty must engage in political activity to influence the decisions of the decision makers. Rest assured, others with conflicting interests do engage and will continue to!

Even beyond the state budget, we have seen many other benefits from our political program. We have elected CSU faculty to state office who know the CSU and who understand the work of faculty; we have sponsored and secured passage of legislation that benefits faculty; we have leveraged our political capital to help secure favorable contracts; and we have been involved in initiative campaigns including passing Proposition 55 to protect CSU funding.

Just as we have seen more and more reasons why political activity is important over the last few years, we have also learned how dependent the success of our governmental relations program is on member involvement. We have elected champions for CSU faculty and students because faculty on our campuses have contributed money, worked in phone banks, and walked precincts for the candidates their chapter has recommended we endorse. Our bills have been passed and signed by the Governor because thousands of faculty have signed cards, written letters, and met with legislators. Political leaders have been willing to support us in bargaining, in the budget process, and on legislation because faculty have developed strong, ongoing personal relationships with them and have helped educate them on our issues.

Every CFA member who has participated in our political and legislative program should be proud of the results. CFA is recognized as an organization with real political power–not just money and not just a strong staff–but with thousands of members who understand the importance of politics and who are ready to participate vigorously in political work.

Increasing our political influence to more effectively represent the faculty and to “Stand Up for the People’s University” is what the CFA Governmental Relations program is all about. If we want to be effective in influencing the decisions that affect the faculty and our university, we must involve ourselves in the process that creates and supports political decision makers through endorsing candidates, campaigning, and lobbying. This job is demanding and unending. But we must do the job well if we are to obtain the kind of support we need and deserve from the political establishment.

The CFA Governmental Relations team and the Political Action & Legislative Committee will provide every CFA campus with the assistance needed to ensure that CFA continues to strengthen its position through extensive and effective CFA involvement in critical elections and lobbying. We can make a difference, and when we do, it is noticed and remembered.