Faculty Union's Campaign For Raises Hits SF State
September 29, 2006 9:47 PM
Last week’s faculty union meeting started with the feel of a protest rally, as SF State staff member Russell Kilday-Hicks attempted to lead the 70 or so people in attendance through a version of “Arnold, Union Organizer,” sung to the tune of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
In a campus-to-campus campaign by the CFA, which made its way to SF State on Sept. 28, a member of its bargaining team outlined where they stand regarding the current negotiations.
The presentation, titled “Stop the Rip-offs,” is part of a two-month tour of all CSU campuses, which focuses on the CFA’s claim that the university is ripping off both the students and faculty.
CFA president John Travis, who heads the faculty bargaining team, was unable to attend and speak at the event because of travel problems. Andy Merrifield, the associate vice president of the CFA for northern California campuses, replaced Travis as the main speaker.
In the presentation, Merrifield, who is also a political science professor at Sonoma State, touched on a variety of topics related to the university’s recent history of financial burdens that the CSU and the chancellor have put the system under, thus making the bargaining process for a faculty salary increase even more difficult. This was in reference to what he called the Loot and Scoot Scandal, which was a decision by the CSU board of trustees to award extra pay to outgoing top-level university executives.
Merrifield said the average increase in executive salary during the scandal was 14 percent, and the total increase was 19 percent. In the last 20 years, he pointed out, the CFA faculty has only had a 3.5 percent salary increase.
A story appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 18, of this year, revealed the scope of the scandal, which dates back to an October 2005, decision by the CSU board of trustees.
Chronicle staff writer Jim Doyle said in his piece that former CSU employees, such as Barry Munitz and Christine Helwick, have made out like bandits after they left the university system.
Toward the end of the hour-long presentation, attendees were given the opportunity to raise concerns and ask any questions about the contract, the CFA or the university.
SF State English professor Erik Solomon, who is the CFA retirement representative on campus, suggested there be a concerted effort by the CFA to reach out in an act of good faith and contact a member from the board of trustees.
But it was Jagdish Jain, an SF State English professor who has been teaching here for 36 years, who, for over five minutes, got the attention of everyone in the Rosa Parks Room with some demanding questions for Merrifield about the two different faculty salary options the university has proposed.
He said that after all the research he’s done on the subject, he still hasn’t seen the CFA address the fact that there is an alternative to the base 14.87 percent salary increase on the table.
The alternative involves a higher general salary increase for the 35 percent of all faculty who are paying for their service step increase, which would leave out many tenured and long-term faculty members who have hit the pay ceiling.
Sue Pak, the SF State CFA coordinator, was curious about Jain, considering how long he had the floor.
“I don’t know who he is,” Pak said after the presentation. “I don’t even know if he’s a CFA member.”
What Jain asked, to be clarified by Merrifield, was the role of the incentive/equity pay program increase, which would take away 3 percent from the 24.87 percent salary increase offer the CSU has proposed.
Jain said the CFA and CSU should both scrap the increase and put the 3 percent back in the salary pool and distribute it as a part of the General Salary Increase over the next three or four years.
"The chancellor loves the whole incentive pay program because he can divide the faculty," said Jain. "By dividing the faculty, he controls the faculty."
SF State librarian Eliose McQuown, who is the campus CFA political action chair, said the university and the chancellor do not have the faculty's needs in mind.
"CSU has done absolutely nothing to try and get extra money for this system," McQuown said in the meeting.
Merrifield admits the terminology and number crunching involved makes it difficult to understand. Not only that, but the uncertainty of funding from the state legislature is still up in the air.
"The whole system is almost indecipherable," Merrifield said.
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