CFA Negotiations Drag On
November 28, 2006 6:24 PM
The latest contract negotiation meeting between the California State University and the California Faculty Association ended as the CFA requested more time to review the CSU’s written proposal.
The 20-month negotiation process has gone to a mediator and the CFA General Assembly passed a resolution in October to allow the CFA Board of Directors to initiate job actions – strikes, walkouts – if a contract has not been successfully negotiated.
The mediator suggested holding a meeting on Dec. 15 for the two groups to discuss things further, according to a bargaining status report Assistant Vice Chancellor Sam Strafaci released last week.
But Paul Browning, media relations specialist for the CSU, said the offer has been fair from the start.
“The chancellor's office has offered the faculty a 25 percent salary raise over the next four years, which we think is a pretty good offer,” he said. “In fact, after just three years on that offer full-time faculty would be making over six figures. Of course, they're all contingent on the budget.”
Emotions run high, and this was evident at a Nov. 15 California State University Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach, where more than 1,200 CSU faculty and students confronted policy makers about their various grievances.
Organized by the CFA, the boisterous chants and cheers made it nearly impossible to hear the board members.
The hubbub did not seem to bother Corrigan, as he was the only board member who stayed until the protesters were finished in the meeting room.
“It's basically part of the democratic process,” he said. “There was a lot of concern on salaries, a lot of concern about some of the perk issues, so it's not a surprise.”
After coming back from recess, the members tried to start the meeting again, but the chants from the protestors drowned out the board’s attempt to call roll and members began to leave.
“It's time for us to have a voice at the table, to be treated with respect, to be treated as equals and to be treated as people who understand what is happening to the California State University,” said John Travis, CFA president, as he and other CFA members sat in vacated board member seats.
According to Browning, the board adjourned the final meeting, but it was too loud to hear the announcement. Browning also expressed concerns that the protest would be counterproductive to negotiations.
Contract negotiations were a big issue for many of the protesters, and it was the main complaint for Cal Poly Pomona professor John Mallinckrodt. The physics professors, like many other in the crowd, had negative feelings towards Chancellor Charles Reed.
“There's been too much dishonest bargaining by the chancellor,” Mallinckrodt said. “The chancellor came into office promising to eliminate a salary gap that had existed for some time. In the past five years that gap has only gotten worse.”
Maire Fowler, a member of SF State's ASI and a CFA intern, played a role in the meeting's first major interruption by opening the back door, which allowed at least 15 protesters stalled the meeting with their chanting. She told security she opened the door because she had to go to her car.
California State Senator Gloria Romero spurred the second interruption. After four hours of meetings, and no acknowledgment of the protesters by the board, Romero stepped to the public comment microphone during a brief recess, during which many of the board members stayed in the room.
“I am proud of this system, I am proud that I graduated from this system,” she said. “And most importantly, I am proud that even as trustees in this room sat here pretending not to hear, there were over 1,000 students and faculty outside calling upon the chancellor and this board of trustees to do three things to make sure California's master plan works for them the way if worked for me.”
Those things, Romero said, were to roll back student fees, get rid of executive perks, and negotiate a fair contract with the faculty.
Many students chanted, “Don't raise fees,” but Browning said that chant didn't make much sense at this meeting because fees didn't go up this year at all
“There was no proposal at this meeting to raise fees. That was a misconception that many students at the meeting seemed to have,” Browning said.
Adriana Garcia, an intern for CFA, used to attend San Jose State University but currently doesn’t attend school because she said she can't afford it.
“It's not fair,” she said. “These board members are getting paid to get new cars while students have to get two jobs and take out loans to afford school.”
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