CFA protest for faculty pay raises

Cars honked in support along the Seventh Street side of Cal State Long Beach as more than 150 members of the California Faculty Association marched along the sidewalk, carrying signs that read, “We teach the 99 percent.”

The group marched from 8 to 10 a.m. Wednesday while handing out information regarding the pay raise conflict between the CSU and CFA, and the upcoming strike on Nov. 17 at Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State East Bay.

The CSU and CFA have been in contract negotiations for 18 months now, and the main conflict is over faculty pay raises for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years.

However, Cal State Long Beach CFA President Teri Yamada said the “real issue” is Chancellor Charles B. Reed’s misplaced priorities.

“It’s not about the quarter of 1 percent,” Yamada said. “It’s a symbolic issue … this is an issue of fairness.”

The faculty pay raises cover a quarter of one percent of the CSU budget, but CSU spokesman Erik Fallis has continually stated that the CSU simply does not have this money.

“The state of California has cut us for several subsequent years,” Fallis said. “We’re all frustrated, but there are not the resources available for the university to do this.”

Some faculty attended the informational picketing for more personal matters, such as Joanne Tortorici Luma from the advanced studies and counseling department.

“I’m out here, in my heart, to defend my students’ rights to a higher and quality education,” Luma said.

She also said the steep increase in student fees has “washed out a lot of students.”

Sociology professor Kristine Zentgraf also said she was picketing for students and wore her regalia to symbolically make everyone in the university system visible.

Students also waved signs at the informational picketing in support of their professors.

“We want to make sure our teachers don’t come to work overwhelmed,” said Donnie Bessom, president of the Graduate Student Association at CSULB.

Bessom said that professors’ current salaries could add more stress to their work.

He is also concerned with Reed’s priorities, in regards to how they affect professors and students. Like some faculty, he questioned how high the CSU is willing to raise student fees while executives receive pay raises.

But Fallis said these allegations are not true, and that only the salaries of two new presidents could be defined as pay increases while no presidents have received raises since 2007.

Many of the faculty members who participated in the informational picketing plan to attend the Nov. 17 strike, as time between their classes will allow.

However, Fallis said that, in order to resolve these issues, the CSU and CFA need to turn their attention to the state of California.

“We really need to focus our collective energy to have the state refocus their energy on higher education,” Fallis said. “Our financial situation is not going to be changed by arguing internally. It can only be changed and improved if we join together and urge the state to refocus their priorities.”


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