Two-Day Strikes to Limit Harm to Students
February 13, 2007 9:14 PM
This week, nearly a hundred SF State faculty members sat down for a session billed as another opportunity to gather information directly from the faculty union's state leaders about why contract negotiations have stalled and why a strike may be necessary.
Presided over by John Travis, CFA statewide president, and Andy Merrifield, the vice-president of northern campuses, a more intimate version of last week's informational picket was held on Tuesday afternoon in the Humanities building.
An explanation of the CFA's most recurrent rallying cry –– that the state's 24.5 percent salary increase offer is misleading –– was on topic.
"There is a lot of misinformation about what the CSU is offering," said Sue Pak, a staff representative for the school's CFA chapter.
As the chairman of a CFA state committee that developed the contractual goals and passed them on to the bargaining team, George Diehr has helped faculty digest the numbers.
He argued that many of the yearly salary increases are not guaranteed, but contingent on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration providing the additional funds, something Diehr said won't happen.
The CSU Board of Trustees' plan also allows for a one percent yearly increase awarded in a discretionary system that the union is wary of.
"It would go to a few people who are favorites of the administration as opposed to people who really have done a more meritorious job," said Diehr, a Cal State San Marcos professor.
The compounded value of the CSU's offer over four years comes to approximately 27 percent, a figure close enough to the 30.45 percent the faculty is seeking, if they believed it.
"They have said that four years from now the salary would have 27 percent more in it," Diehr said. "If that were true we would accept their offer in a heartbeat."
The meeting also helped clarify the timetable for possible work action.
The fact-finding panel has until the end of February to put forward its alternative offer. Labor law dictates that the CFA can't strike until 10 days have passed and the administration decides to impose its own “last, best and final” offer.
"That report put pressures on both sides because the state certainly doesn't want to have their faculty go on strike," Diehr said.
Work stoppage, meeting leaders explained, would most likely happen in the form of two-day strikes rolling through the campuses, Pak said.
Since many classes are offered on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday, a two-day strike is seen as the best way to limit disturbing class schedules because most student would only miss one session of each class.
In response to a common worry among faculty, union leaders also explained how students would be aversely affected if the union accepted the CSU's current contract proposal. Stopping further student fee hikes is also one of the CFA's concerns.
"Happy faculty make happy students," Pak said.
The union is still collecting signatures for its strike pledges, something it has also been using "to energize and solidify members" in anticipation of the general strike authorization vote that may be needed, Pak said.
More meetings will be scheduled as the fact-finding report due-date draws near.
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