Cal Poly faculty members are joining teachers at California State University campuses statewide in a vote, which ends today, that will decide on a possible two-day strike in the fall.
Negotiations between the California Faculty Association and the CSU administration on a new contract have stalled. Twenty-two months have passed since the last contract ended in June 2010.
Cal Poly’s union president, Glen Thorncroft, said CSU Chancellor Charles Reed “isn’t looking out for faculty.” “He’s a wonderful advocate,” Thorncroft said. “But that’s only for a small group of people — the administration.”
But CSU spokesman Michael Uhlenkamp said state budget cuts have forced the administration into the position it’s in.
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The CSU system can’t afford a 1 percent salary increase proposed by the faculty union representing 23,000 professors statewide.
“The money simply doesn’t exist,” Uhlenkamp said. “One percent doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s talking about tens of millions of dollars in salary increases.” The two sides will return to negotiations in early May, continuing talks that could produce a final CSU offer to the faculty.
If the union isn’t satisfied, members could engage in a two-day, rolling strike at campuses.
Faculty members have not received an across-the-board pay increase since 2008, and the union says compensation isn’t keeping pace with inflation and cost of living.
But CSU officials said faculty union members were the last employee group in the system to receive an across-the-board pay hike, which amounted to about 2 percent.
The dispute, however, is not limited to pay. It also involves other sticking points, such as job stability for lecturers.
After six years, temporary faculty members become eligible to receive three-year appointments. But CSU officials want to require a performance review prior to renewing such an appointment. The union believes that change will make it easier for the CSU system to get rid of lecturers.
Thorncroft said faculty members feel pushed to threaten the strike because Reed is refusing to budge. “We totally get that it’s tough times, but what we want is reasonable,” Thorncroft said. “None of the faculty wants to strike. But we’re not bluffing.”
In a previous round of contract battles, the faculty union cited about $6 million in CSU raises to about 550 management employees between 2008 and 2010.
Faculty also have criticized salaries given to presidents hired at certain CSU campuses. San Diego State, for instance, hired Elliot Hirshman at a rate of $100,000 more than his predecessor earned last year. Hirshman will earn $400,000 per year.
But CSU officials countered that certain faculty members received a total of $60 million in salary increases from 2008 to 2010.
According to CSU officials, state funding has been slashed by almost $1 billion over the past four years, which amounts to 33 percent.
Student tuition increases covered only about half of the lost revenue, CSU officials say.