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California Faculty Association set to vote on labor strike authorization

The California Faculty Association is set to hold strike authorization vote Oct. 21 through Oct. 27. If approved by the majority of union members, it would grant the legal authority to strike if the statutory process fails.

The CFA is currently in the fact-finding stage of the statutory process. This is the final stage before any job action can be legally authorized. Public employees only have the right to strike if they go through this statutory process or prove illegal labor practices.

The union declared an impasse in the bargaining process on Aug. 24 as the two sides failed to come to an agreement on a new labor contract. Among other things, the CFA is asking for a 12% general salary increase (GSI), an increase to the minimum salary for their lowest paid faculty and a full semester of paid parental leave.

According to the Chancellor’s office, during the last negotiations, they offered a 5% GSI over the next fiscal year or a 12% raise over the next three years.

The Long Beach chapter of the CFA held a town hall meeting Monday to update members on the state of the labor negotiations with the CSU.

The town hall was led by Kelly Janousek, the CFA faculty rights chair and Beka Langen, the CFA field representative for Long Beach.

If a strike is authorized, Janousek says it would be a “rolling strike,” meaning that not all campuses would be striking the entire time. Campuses in Long Beach and Dominguez Hills could strike one day and Bakersfield and Los Angeles could strike the next day.

Unlike many other labor strikes around the country, the CFA strike will not necessarily be an indefinite strike such as the recent Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, although that is not being ruled out, according to Langen.

“Ultimately, that decision is going to be based on what gets us the most power, what is going to be the thing that helps the most,” Langen said.

Janousek and Langen said faculty members are being asked to begin talking to students about the possibility of a strike in their classes and what that may mean for them.

There will be a number of options for professors and lecturers who do choose to strike as far as keeping their classes running such as pre-preparing material for days the faculty will be striking.

“It seems like most of you have your syllabus, like jam packed, something is being taught every single day. And if you’re on strike for two days, how do you deal with the fact that what you were going to teach those two days won’t be taught,” Langen said.

Ultimately they said the days that Long Beach is striking, faculty members are expected by the union to do no work related to the university and will know well in advance the days Long Beach is expected to strike.

“You do not use Canvas while you’re on strike. You do not do email while you’re on strike. You literally do no work,” Janousek said.

Langen added there will ultimately be union members who choose not to strike and not to honor the picket line. She addressed how this would affect students who choose not to cross the picket line. Students will still be able to come on campus during any strike.

Back in 2016 when the union was five days away from striking, Langen said the group had worked out a deal with President Jane Close Conoley where students would not feel pressured to cross the picket line based on the fear their academic performance would suffer as a result of missing class.

“We will be doing that again, because the overwhelming majority of students were clear that they were not going to cross the picket line. If a faculty member wants to be scab, that’s their choice. They shouldn’t create conditions that would cause a student to feel like they’re going have their grades impacted,” Langen said.

However, according to Langen, Conoley does not have the authority to dictate what professors do, academically speaking.

“She can’t actually tell you what to do in your class. So it’s a little bit of a, you know, kind of an honor system,” Langen said.

Conoley said in a email to the Daily Forty-Niner that she hopes the two sides can reach an agreement in a way that doesn’t impact student’s success.

“I want our Beach faculty to be fairly paid, to be sure. I also know that our students depend on faculty mentorship in so many ways, that any disruption of instruction could threaten student success,” Conoley said.

The chancellor’s office said in a statement to the Daily Forty-Niner, “The CSU is aware of the CFA’s decision to hold a strike authorization vote and respects that decision as part of the union’s rights within collective bargaining.”

CFA members plan to rally outside the chancellor’s office on Nov. 7.

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