Union Ratifies Tentative Contract
May 8, 2007 11:36 AM
Members of the California Faculty Association voted overwhelmingly to accept a tentative contract agreement with the California State University system, the CFA announced Monday.
The contract was approved after three days of voting last week by union members on all 23 CSU campuses, with 97 percent of CFA members supporting it.
"Through intense negotiations, faculty activism and finally strike preparations, the CSU faculty have won a contract that provides fair salaries, retirement security, proper grievance procedures and much more," outgoing CFA President John Travis said in a written statement on Monday.
The CSU Board of Trustees must vote to ratify the agreement before the new contract goes into effect.
The decision will come at the May 15th regular Board meeting but CSU Chancellor Charles Reed's April 3 statement called it, "one step closer (to giving faculty members) their deserved salary increases."
Reed went on to talk about the increases the CSU fears will have an impact on schools, saying they will work with the state legislature "to secure additional funding to minimize campus impacts."
George Diehr, a union official who has been on the bargaining team for eight years, said he fears the CSU is preparing for a public relations battle and plans to blame teachers for budget shortfalls and is hiring an independent firm to look into the numbers.
"The administration is now making what I think are exaggerated or bogus claims," Diehr said. "They are trying to raise specters that they will have to shift funds, maybe cut classes. I think it's unfortunate that they negotiated something and now they are starting to whine again."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzennegger may yet decide to cover the additional $40 million the CSU said the 2007/08 budget will need for salary increases.
If he doesn't, cuts will have to come from "already strained campus budgets," CSU spokesperson Paul Browning said.
CFA President-Elect Lillian Taiz said in a statement that she hoped the new contract would be "the first step" toward improving conditions for CSU faculty members.
"We still must work to build the power and influence of the faculty for even greater improvements in working and learning conditions throughout the CSU," Taiz said.
Many faculty and union members are pleased with the new contract.
"The contract reflected a lot of the hard work and gave the instructors what they deserved," English lecturer Kati Kilpatrick said,
Sue Pak, a staffmember of the local CFA chapter called it, "one of the best contracts in Higher Education labor," but added that it was the strike campaign pressure that forced the CSU to agree it.
The length of the contract is four years but the extended negotiations have cut into its duration. The contract will expire July 2010.
By then, the faculty salary gap with comparable university system will have closed by half -- this contract's chief victory for the union -- and new issues will have to be tackled, Diehr said.
"I would hope that we would be able to move on, not have to fight some of these old battles," Diehr said. "What we still need to do in the next contract is work on our overall salary system which is still in shambles."
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