Cal Poly faculty union pushes for pay raise

An entrance to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.
An entrance to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.

Cal Poly’s faculty union — along with teachers at other California State University campuses —  is pushing the state university system to pay what they think is their fair share after years of going without raises.

Union members presented Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong with a letter Thursday stating that a stall in contract negotiations between the California Faculty Association and the CSU management for a faculty raise is over a difference of 0.28 percent of Cal Poly’s $336 million annual budget.

The CSU’s faculty seeks a raise that would amount to a 10 percent increase over three years — 4 percent in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, and 3 percent in each of the next two fiscal years.

But CSU management has proposed a 7 percent increase — 3 percent this year and 2 percent in each of the next two fiscal years.

The CSU faculty hadn’t received a raise in six years until last year, when it got a flat $80 per month increase in paychecks, a 1.34 percent increase.

Cal Poly’s union presented Armstrong with the letter, saying that if the CFA and CSU can’t reach an agreement, the union hopes the Cal Poly campus can find the funds within its budget to make up the difference.

“We think this is the change that can be found within the couch cushions,” said Graham Archer, Cal Poly’s faculty union president. “We hope that the CSU’s management will agree to our proposal. But if they don’t, we hope the individual campuses will come up with this money in their general fund.”

After nine months of negotiations to try to secure a contract for this fiscal year, which began July 1, the CFA and CSU will sit down again Monday and Tuesday to try to negotiate a deal.

If a deal can’t be reached, CFA field representative Maureen Loughran said that busloads of faculty from throughout the 23-campus system will protest at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting Nov. 13 in Long Beach.

Armstrong, after meeting with the faculty Thursday, said faculty compensation is a priority for Cal Poly to help maintain the quality of its education. Armstrong didn’t make any commitment to the union’s request to make up any funding gap the CSU couldn’t provide.

“It’s a high priority for us, and hopefully we can do more over time,” Armstrong said. “We’re going to having ongoing budget discussions. … Our most important priority is student success, and faculty success goes hand-in-hand.”

Archer said he didn’t expect Armstrong to commit to the funding on the spot, but he wants to continue the pressure on the issue moving forward.

CSU spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp said a framework for an agreement has been reached and that the university system has prioritized faculty spending this year over deferred maintenance and other expenditures.

“We believe we have a deal in place,” Uhlenkamp said.