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Home / faculty strike

Cal State University faculty union begins 5-day strike

The California State University system is facing a five-day strike by nearly 30,000 faculty members and other employees beginning Monday.

The California Faculty Association — the union representing some 29,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches across the 23-campus CSU system — said plans for its work stoppage were unchanged despite last week’s tentative three-year contract agreement between the CSU and the union representing 1,100 skilled trade workers.

The strike began at 8 a.m. Monday, with picket lines at all campuses. LA-area schools affected are Cal State Los Angeles, Long Beach, Northridge, Dominguez Hills, Pomona and Fullerton.

A CSU spokeswoman, Amy Bentley-Smith, said the university — the largest public system in the country — is prepared for the walkout, and was working to ensure the least possible disruptions for students.

A similar strike was averted Friday when a deal was reached with Teamsters Local 2010, which represents 1,100 skilled trade workers at 22 of the 23 CSU campuses. That deal must be ratified by the union membership and will be brought to the CSU Board of Trustees for approval at its March meeting. Skilled trades employees at the 23rd CSU school, Cal Maritime, are represented by a different union, IUOE International Union of Operating Engineers.

The Teamster skilled trade workers had also planned to begin a strike Monday, coinciding with the first week of instruction of the spring semester for many CSU campuses. That is now off.

But the CFA strike, running Monday through Friday, was set to go on as planned.

Issues include salary, workload, health and safety concerns, parental leave and class sizes.

“There are so many issues within the CSU system that need to be addressed,” CFA member and Cal Poly Pomona Counselor Maria Gisela Sanchez Cobo said.

“I know many faculty teach one class here, one class there. They’re driving across their county to make ends meet — that impacts that quality of teaching, the quality of learning. And our inadequate counselor-to-student ratios — we have so many students who are facing significant barriers. … And I’m fully hurt and disheartened that CSU management increased tuition for students. … they have no funding, but they have enough for presidents’ raises and more and more administrators.”

On Jan. 9, as talks between the university and CFA stalled, CSU officials announced they would provide all instructional faculty, librarians, counselors and coaches with a general salary increase of 5% effective Jan. 31 — rejecting demands for much higher increases and ending negotiations.

“With this action, we will ensure that well-deserved raises get to our faculty members as soon as possible,” said Leora Freedman, CSU’s vice chancellor for human resources. “We have been in the bargaining process for eight months and the CFA has shown no movement, leaving us no other option.”

The 5% salary increase is consistent with agreements CSU has already reached with five of its labor unions, Freedman said. CSU officials previously said that a 12% general salary increase for CFA members is not sustainable for the university system.

“CSU strives to provide fair, competitive pay and benefits for all of our employees,” Freedman said. “We recognize the need to increase compensation and are committed to doing so, but our financial commitments must be fiscally sustainable.”

In response, CFA President Charles Toombs issued a statement blasting CSU management for expressing “nothing but disdain” for its faculty.

“The CFA Bargaining Team reserved four days for re-opener contract negotiations this week, making every effort to bargain in good faith and explore the space for a negotiated solution before a systemwide strike Jan. 22 to 26,” Toombs said on Jan. 9.

Meanwhile, Bentley-Smith, the CSU spokeswoman, said the university was working to minimize any impacts of the walkout.

“The CSU respects the rights of CFA to engage in strike activity and takes seriously any such planned union action,” she said.

“CSU will continue to meet its educational commitment to students. All CSU campuses will remain open during a strike to serve students and have contingency plans in place to maintain university operations. Our hope is to minimize any disruptions and that the strike poses no hardship on our students.”

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