Faculty members strike for pay increase

Hundreds of California Faculty Association members gathered at Cal State Dominguez Hills in an attempt to shut down the campus as part of a one-day strike on Thursday against lost pay raises from the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years.

The current union contract included these pay raises, but the Cal State University cited a renegotiation clause to block them based on economic conditions.

Members from Southern California campuses arrived in buses at the strike that lasted from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. A separate strike was held for Northern California campuses at Cal State East Bay.

Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) was “practically dead” while East Bay was completely shut down, according to Ivonne Heinze from the college of arts and humanities at CSUDH.

A press release stated that 2,000 people picketed at the CSUDH strike and no arrests were made.

Members of various other unions, and the California State Senate and Assembly, supported CFA at the strike, according to David Bradfield, associate vice president and co-chair of the CFA Board of Directors. He said the strike received nationwide support.

CFA is asking for equity pay increases for the aforementioned years, which would appease faculty members who are suffering from salary compression, Cal State Long Beach CFA President Teri Yamada said.

However, CFA President Lillian Taiz said the pay raises were “just the tip of the iceberg” and the strike was also addressed to other issues that the CFA sees in the CSU’s decisions regarding executive compensation and tuition increases.

“We are out here because the chancellor has misplaced priorities,” Taiz said. “When your budget is cut at home, you have to decide what is important and the chancellor decided what is important is executives and managers.”

CSU spokesman Erik Fallis said the CSU is declining the equity increases because “it’s a matter of priorities.”

“We could pull this money from students,” Fallis said, “but … it’s not appropriate given everything we’ve asked the students to do lately.”

A document framing CFA and the CSU’s collective bargaining stated the $20 million CFA is demanding would pay for 315 full-time temporary lecturer jobs, enrollment of 2,800 students or 3,150 course sections.

“Well, it could, but so could [the chancellor’s] raise,” said Mark Simoes, from the English department at CSULB. “His raise and the various raises that the top administrators have made fill up ours by far, or at least equate them.”

Fallis said only the salaries of two new presidents could be defined as pay increases while no presidents have received raises since 2007. But a table on the CFA website shows dramatic pay raises for CSU presidents from 1998 to 2011 while faculty salaries remained about the same.

“This greatly affects all of us,” said David Turner, a junior at CSUDH. “It doesn’t matter if you have financial aid or not. It’s all going to affect how we live.”

Members of the CFA said they appreciated student participation.

“It’s nice when students come out and get angry, then parents get angry,” Cal State Fullerton physics professor Keith Wanser said. “There’s the real power.”

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