Amid a contract dispute, the California State University faculty union announced Wednesday that it has overwhelmingly authorized a strike for the fourth time in eight years.
More than 94 percent of participants in the 10-day vote gave the California Faculty Association – which represents approximately 25,000 CSU professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches – permission to call a strike across the 23-campus system if it fails to reach an agreement on salaries for the 2015-16 academic year. The union is currently taking part in a fact-finding arbitration process with university officials.
“The faculty are angry and justifiably so,” faculty association President Jennifer Eagan said during a press conference at San Jose State University. “Our employer has decided what the faculty is worth, and they have decided that we’re not worth that much to them.”
Faculty, which received small or no pay increases over much of the last decade as the economic recession decimated the university’s budget, began agitating for a significant raise this spring. In a series of reports, it made the case that the university has been underfunding its teaching staff for years – shifting priorities to administrative spending and hiring, turning to part-time lecturers to cut costs, and providing salaries that have not kept up with inflation.
When CSU offered an across-the-board pay increase of 2 percent to employees this year, including 30 of its top officials, the faculty association rejected that offer as offer as “insulting” and “way too low.” It is seeking a 5 percent compensation hike, with additional 2.65 raises for about 12,000 members of the union who are at the lower end of their pay rank, a plan that the university says would cost three times as much and take up half of the $217 million funding increase it received in this year’s state budget.
The faculty association previously authorized strikes during contract negotiations in 2007 and 2012, but ultimately settled. It conducted a one-day strike at two campuses in 2011 to protest budget cuts.
In a statement, CSU spokeswoman Toni Molle said the strike vote was “not unexpected.”
“The strike authorization vote has now become a routine part of CFA’s post-impasse negotiation strategy,” Molle said. “The CSU remains committed to the collective bargaining process and reaching a negotiated agreement with the CFA.”
Fact-finding hearings are set for Nov. 23 and Dec. 7.