CSU, News

Contract comparisons: Tentative agreement raises the floor for lowest-paid faculty

By: Linsey Towles and Acsah Lemma

Members of the California Faculty Association (CFA) are set to vote on the tentative agreement that put an end to last week’s strike after one day, an agreement offering a handful of working condition improvements.

On Jan. 22, the CFA called off the scheduled week-long strike after accepting a tentative agreement from the CSU. Union members are expected to vote on the tentative agreement beginning Feb. 12. A 51% vote is needed from all union members to accept the new contract.

The tentative agreement has prompted mixed reactions from faculty and students as it is compared with the original offer from the CSU presented in November 2023.

According to the CFA, the major sections of the agreement the union sought to improve were articles 20, 23, 31 and 37 which pertain to workload, leaves of absence with pay, salary and health and safety.

Here is how the tentative agreement compares to the original contract offered by the CSU.

Tentative agreement accepted by the CFA contains both similarities and differences to the original CSU offer pre-strike.
Tentative agreement accepted by the CFA contains both similarities and differences to the original CSU offer pre-strike. Photo credit: Linsey Towles

Raising the floor for lecturers

A major concern for CFA negotiators was ensuring the lowest-paid faculty received raises. Faculty members are divided into ranges, with ranges A and B getting the lowest starting pay. In the original offer from CSU, there was no raise for faculty in these ranges. In the tentative agreement, range A faculty would receive a 21.6% increase in annual salary from $54,360 to $66,082. Range B faculty are set to receive a 15.1% increase from $64,860 to $74,658.

General Salary Increase (GSI)

In the original contract offer, all faculty would receive a general salary increase (GSI) of 5% that would be in effect on Jan. 31, 2024, according to a CFA email. In the tentative agreement, faculty would receive a 5% GSI retroactive to July 2023 and an additional 5% GSI in July 2024 if the CSU’s base funding isn’t cut.

Mental Health

Improved mental health services for students was also a major point of the CFA’s demands for their new contract. In the imposition offer from the CSU, no mention was made of decreasing ratio of students to mental health counselors.

In the tentative agreement, however, “CSU management agreed to move toward 1,500:1 student-to-counselor ratios.” Currently, the common ratio is 4,000 students to one counselor in the CSU system, according to CSULB librarian Kelly Janousek.

Workload

Workload is known as Article 20 in the CFA contract for 2022 through 2024. Union members sought a decrease in workload and language in the new contract to define faculty member’s workload. In the imposition offer from the CSU, there was no change to faculty workload.

In the tentative agreement, there now contains language that supports defined workload, stating that the CSU will provide, “support for lecturer engagement in service work.”

Leaves of Absence with Pay

Currently, CFA members are granted six weeks of paid parental leave. In their new contract, union members sought an increase to this time. Originally the CSU offered no changes to parental leave, according to the CFA infographic. The tentative agreement accepted last week says the CFA would increase parental leave to 10 weeks.

Lactation Spaces and Gender-Inclusive Bathrooms

Lactation spaces for faculty and students as well as gender-inclusive bathrooms were not acknowledged as an urgent need in by the CSU originally. After the one-day strike, the proposed contract contains language acknowledging these spaces, stating that the CSU will provide, “improved access, and pathway to monitor” in regard to both of the concerns.

Campus Safety

In the tentative agreement, faculty are now able to have legal representation when dealing with campus police, a change from previous policy. The new agreement would establish “rights and protection for faculty who are interviewed or approached by campus police,” according to the CFA.

While some campuses allow for faculty to have legal representation, the tentative agreement would codify it into the contract and require all CSU campuses to have the same standards.

Faculty Parking Fees

The CSU had proposed an increase in faculty parking fees by $2 every month for the new CFA contract. Depending on the CSU campus, that is a 15-18% increase per year, according to the infographic. With the agreement, faculty parking fees cannot increase more than 5% per year.

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