CFA and CSU Bump Heads Over Contract
Failure to reach an agreement may lead to faculty demonstrations
February 23, 2006 7:39 PM
The California Faculty Association (CFA) said that the bargaining to reach a contractual agreement with the California State University (CSU) has reached a crisis and has prompted them to set up demonstrations across all CSU campuses.
For at least the past year, the CSU and CFA have been intensely negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. It will replace the old contract, which has already been extended four times, to mid-March due to stalled negotiations. In a Feb. 22 meeting, CFA expressed that if no agreement is reached soon, demonstrations across all CSU campuses will start in March.
“If there isn’t an agreement, then there is going to be a real show of force,” said Barry Rothman, a biology professor who has taught at SF State for the last 20 years. “By and large the faculty has been pretty stable until recently,” Rothman said in reference to possible walkouts. He added that the faculty generally doesn’t partake in walkouts.
On the other hand, Clara Potes-Fellow, the CSU media relations director, said, “The most important mission of this institution is student instruction and we are confident the faculty will do nothing to harm the students.”
Despite a number of key disagreements between the CSU and CFA, Potes-Fellow said, “The CSU is interested in reaching a contract as soon as possible and will continue negotiating in good faith until a solution that benefits both sides is accomplished.”
When SF State CFA office manager Lauri Owen was asked how close they were to an agreement, she said, “Sadly, I think we are pretty far apart on most issues.”
“It certainly cannot be said that failure for CFA and the CSU administration to reach an agreement will help CSU students in any way,” said Owen.
A reason for the crisis is that CSU administration proposes to focus pay increases on top executives. The administration proposes to raise campus president annual salaries an average of 14.5 percent, which translates to about $30,000 a year. They also propose to increase their car allowances by $250 per month and their housing allowances by $30,000 per year.
CFA said that pay increases need to be focused on the faculty level in order to close the gap between CSU lectures and community college lectures.
Full-time CSU lecturer’s average salaries are lower compared to community college professors. The average CSU full-time lecturer earns $53,800 a year, while the the average professor in the San Francisco Community College District earns $75,545, according to CFA.
In response to this, CSU proposed to re-introduce the merit pay program in which “one third of the faculty would be eligible each year for a merit pay increase, using existing faculty review procedures.”
Other key areas in the contract that CFA wants to improve on are job security and lower student-teacher ratios.
The student-teacher ratio had remained fairly steady until 2001 when the ratio rapidly began to increase. It went from 19 students per teacher in 2001, to a significantly higher 21 to 1 in 2005.
The CFA represents about 23,000 members, which include instructional faculty, librarians, counselors and coaches across all of California’s 23 State University campuses. There are approximately 405,000 CSU students enrolled for 2006.
Despite the whirlwind of disagreements and disputes, Rothman said that students don’t need to worry this very moment.
“I don’t think the life of a student will change unless the faculty gets a bad contract.”
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