Campus, CSU, News

CSU faculty split on tentative agreement

Some faculty members at several CSU campuses are unhappy with the concessions made in the tentative agreement and how the strike was called off after only the first day.

The CFA backed away from many of their key bargaining positions including the 12% general salary increase (GSI) and a full semester of paid parental leave.

The tentative agreement allotted a 5% retroactive pay increase for the 2023 school year and a 5% increase effective July 1, contingent on the California state government not reducing CSU funding. Paid parental leave went from six weeks to 10 weeks, while a full semester consists of 16 weeks.

A group of faculty called CFA Rank and File United are pushing for members to vote against ratifying the tentative agreement and instead go back to the impasse present during the strike.

“Part of what we were doing was recognizing that faculty working conditions are student learning conditions, and we were on strike for significant improvements, and those conditions are still not met,” May Lin, associate professor of Asian American Studies at CSULB, said.

Some faculty members expressed their discontent with the agreement, specifically in the lack of changes to workload management and the lack of language in the agreement mandating a specific counselor to student ratio. The agreement notes the importance of moving to a 1,500-1 student to counselor ratio but does not mandate it as a condition of the agreement.

“In this tentative agreement, all we see is this kind of aspirational language and an acknowledgement of the issue, but we’re fighting for there to be actual change and for there to be more counselors hired because folks are waiting weeks, even months to see someone, and oftentimes are already in a moment of crisis,” Lin said.

CSULB lecturer Kavitha Koshy said her main issue was with the lack of substantive change in the workload for faculty.

“I started out on this strike thinking about workload all along. And it hasn’t changed anything for me. And so I still have to do a five-five load if I want to get that base increase. It’s not a quality of life that we were striking for at all,” Koshy said.

The five-five workload Koshy refers to is five classes per semester for professors and lecturers.

Language in the tentative agreement does address workload but does not lay out a specific maximum amount of courses a faculty member could teach in any given semester.

Rather, the agreement states, “Members of the bargaining unit shall not be required to teach an excessive number of contract hours, assume an excessive student load, or be assigned an unreasonable workload or schedule.”

CFA Secretary and professor of communications at Fresno State Diane Blair said this agreement is not an ending point, but rather progress in the CFA’s continued fight for fair working conditions.

“I think one of the things that I have learned as being sort of involved in union leadership for many, many years now is that contract negotiations are better understood as contract development,” Blair said. “And, the goal is to just make sure that we’re moving forward in a progressive way towards what it is our faculty members need in terms of their livelihood and their working conditions. But it’s an ongoing process that never ends.”

A straw poll conducted by CFA Rank and File at four town hall meetings surveyed more than 700 faculty members and found that 66%to 84% of attendees would vote no on the tentative agreement. Between 13% to 24% were unsure and 3% to 14% said they would vote yes.

The CFA is holding three statewide virtual town hall meetings on Feb. 6, 7 and 8 at 2 p.m., 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. respectively.

CFA members will vote on the tentative agreement starting Feb. 12 and ending on Feb. 18.

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