Upset Faculty Members Protest Corrigan
August 29, 2006 12:54 PM
Professor Linda Ellis had a speech prepared for the annual gathering of SF State faculty before the school year, but she wasn’t allowed to give it.
President Robert Corrigan’s annual speech on Monday discussing the state and future of the university, including a formal introduction of new faculty, was overshadowed by California Faculty Association protesters holding up signs reading “fair contract now” and “CFA silenced” in front of the stage at McKenna Theater.
“They have denied faculty information that effects working conditions,” Ellis said.
Ellis is the chairwoman of SF State’s CFA contingent, the faculty labor union for all 23 California State University campuses and director of the Museum Studies Program. When Corrigan finished his speech, she, along with a group of 11 others, marched up the aisle and chanted, “Let us speak.”
Prior to the last two years, a representative from the CFA gave a customary five-minute speech before Corrigan at the annual reception to update SF State faculty on issues they otherwise would not know of, Ellis said.
“This is the second year in a row that we have been locked out,” Ellis said. “It’s a 20-year tradition.”
The demonstration illustrates the current frustration surrounding the nearly two-year-long contract negotiations between the faculty union and the CSU chancellor’s office. Just last July, a marathon five-day negotiation on workload and salary issues ended without a deal. Currently, faculty are working under a temporary contract that ends on Sept. 1, Ellis said.
If the CFA does not approve to re-extend the temporary contract for another month, which Ellis said they have yet to do, faculty would be working, in effect, without a contract.
Professor David Meredith, chair of the Academic Senate, the body largely responsible for scheduling the CFA to speak at the reception, said he didn’t specifically know why the CFA was not allowed to speak at the reception, choosing not to comment on it.
“I am aware of the issue,” he said.
It is unlikely that the contract negotiations between the faculty and the CSU is the sole reason why the CFA was not allowed to speak at the meeting, but what is clear is that it is not fostering an amicable relationship with the administration.
“I suspect that the CSU and the SFSU administration are always on the look-out for ways to silence the union,” Ellis said.
“There is just excuses,” she said. “They have never really given me a valid reason.”
The invalid reason, according to Ellis, is that the Academic Senate said last year that the union’s check to help pay for “donuts and refreshments” was not received on time.
A primary obstacle so far in contract negotiations, Ellis said, revolves around faculty salary and if it adequately addresses what is known as the California Postsecondary Education Commission pay gap. According to the commission, CSU faculty earn as much as 14 percent less than their counterparts at similar institutions.
“This has been a long-standing problem,” Ellis said. “We are not asking for anything unusual, we are just asking for what other professors get.”
At one point during Corrigan’s speech, he acknowledged the protesters and said he embraces the “feisty” activism of not only the student body, but also the faculty.
Corrigan announced that the university is beginning the academic year with a $6.5 million budget deficit, caused by declining international student enrollment and the tuition revenue they generate. He also said rising utility costs to the university have contributed to the deficit.
A greater chunk of Corrigan’s speech was about the university’s long-term strategic plan. The plan encompasses things such as new building infrastructure in the next 10 years and guided academic philosophy.
Corrigan called it a “bridge between ideas and structure,” and “looking at new ways of addressing new problems.”
Last time a master plan was conceived and adopted by the university was in 1989, Corrigan said. He hopes to submit the plan to the Board of Trustees for approval in the early part of next year, he said.
Corrigan did not take questions from the audience after the speech.
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University