Cal State faculty to vote on possible strike over salaries

Professors, librarians, counselors and other California State University employees are preparing to vote on whether to permit their labor union to call a strike over stalled salary negotiations.

The California Faculty Association is asking its 25,000 members to authorize a strike or other protests if contract talks that already have resisted mediation remain unsuccessful. At issue is the size of pay raises union members will receive this school year.

The faculty association is seeking a 5 percent salary increase for all its members along with a 2.7 percent pay bump based on years of service. The university is offering raises of 2 percent, the same increase all other CSU employees received.

Association President Jennifer Eagan said faculty members are pressing for more because their raises have not kept pace with those awarded to professors at the University of California and the state’s community colleges.

“We are always the last thing the university is interested in spending money on, and that is really demoralizing,” said Eagan, a philosophy and public affairs professor at Cal State-East Bay.

The strike authorization vote that starts Monday at the 23 Cal State campuses and is scheduled to run through Oct. 28 will be at least the fourth the union has held in eight years. No specific dates have been set for the threatened strike, and the earliest one would be held is the spring semester that starts in January, Eagan said.

One of the earlier authorization votes resulted in a one-day walkout at two campuses in 2011. But the nation’s largest public university system, which enrolls about 460,000 students, has not been subject to a full faculty strike since system-wide collective bargaining began in the early 1980s.

Walkouts were averted in 2007 and 2012 when negotiators for the administration and the union reached settlements before strikes were declared.

The university is hopeful that will be the outcome this time around, system spokeswoman Toni Molle said.

The raises the union is seeking would cost $69 million more than has been budgeted, money CSU already has pledged to increasing enrollment, hiring more faculty, and initiatives to get more students to graduate, Molle said. “We value and invest in faculty and all of our employees, but we have to maintain a balanced approach to compensation,” she said.

The average CSU faculty member earned $96,000 for nine months of work as of last April, and all professors with tenure or eligible for it make at least $86,314, according to Molle. Lecturers who only teach make $59,333 if they are working full-time, she said.

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