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“We are going to work like hell to let [the CSU] hear our voices,” said CFA president Lillian Taiz. “Honestly, if they want to fight, and it appears they do, we know how to give them one.”
Pending a vote by CFA members to further discussions regarding unpaid raises, the labor union’s board of directors may call for a one-day strike Nov. 17 at CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU East Bay or both. Already set in motion are plans for informational picketing Nov. 8 and 9 at respective CSU campuses.
This is the latest jab in an ongoing brawl between the CFA and the California State University Chancellor’s Office over several contentious topics, including deteriorating teaching conditions.
The latest job actions are exclusively based on disputed pay raises. Faced with drastic budget cuts to the CSU system, Chancellor Charles Reed made use of a CFA contract clause – one that allows for renegotiation based on economic conditions – to block pay raises to faculty for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years.
During the final phase in the collective bargaining process, a neutral panel sided with the union.
“Based on the hearing and argument provided by the Counsel, and their final positions, and the discussion as laid out above, it would appear appropriate to adopt the 1.3 percent CFA offer,” reads the fact-finding report on the negotiations.
So far, the chancellor is sticking to his guns on the matter, stating that it would be unfair to award a portion of the faculty wages when economic hardships have negatively affected the entire system.
`We have made our final proposal and that is to maintain the status quo,” said Mike Uhlenkamp, spokesman for the Chancellors Office.
He added that while the CSU would like to give raises to its employees, the reality is that the system’s budget significantly shrunk.
“What we are taking about is one quarter of one percent of a $5 billion – billion with a capital ‘B’ – budget,” Taiz said, in regards to the amount requested to cover the disputed raises.
Uhlenkamp said any planned job actions by CSU faculty would impact students.
“It is irresponsible to use students as pawns in this,” Uhlenkamp said.
However, Taiz, who is a professor of history at Cal State Los Angeles, believes this is a teachable moment.
“I think as teachers we have to show our students, especially the students who go to the CSU – the working class student – that at a certain point you have to stand up for yourself,” she said.
If a strike is called by the CFA board, faculty who take part face a potential dock in pay, but would be protected from any disciplinary action.