The California State University faculty union announced Tuesday that its members overwhelmingly approved a new contract that will raise salaries by more than 10 percent over the next two years.
The agreement was unveiled last month after a nearly yearlong standoff with the university over pay raises and just days before the California Faculty Association — which represents approximately 26,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches — was set to begin a massive five-day strike across the 23-campus system.
The union said 63 percent of its undisclosed number of members participated in the online vote, with 97 percent favoring the contract. It will provide a 5 percent salary increase on June 30 and another 2 percent on July 1, followed by a 3.5 percent increase on July 1, 2017.
Cal Poly faculty union president Graham Archer called the deal fair for both sides.
“I believe the vote was so overwhelmingly in support of the tentative agreement because the faculty see it as a fair compromise,” Archer said. “...We can all get back to the classroom and focus on our students. My only reservation about not actually striking now is that we may have just kicked the can down the road. In the years to come, we may have to remind the chancellor that faculty are willing to strike. I hope I’m wrong.”
Archer said that Cal Poly’s exit poll on its faculty approval showed that 87 percent of Cal Poly faculty favor the agreement, compared with the CSU-wide average of 97 percent faculty support.
“Many (Cal Poly) faculty cited a lack of retroactive pay as their reason for their negative vote,” Archer said.
The CSU’s faculty union had been negotiating a pay increase for this fiscal year, but the pay hike won’t be implemented until June 30, a day before the fiscal year 2016-17 begins.
The agreement, which also boosts the minimum raise for faculty promotions and doubles the amount of time to become fully eligible for retirement health benefits to 10 years, will next go before the CSU Board of Trustees for ratification at its meeting in late May.
According to data from CSU and the faculty association, there are nearly 10,000 tenured or tenure-track professors in the system making an average of $84,000 per year. But lower-paid lecturers, many of whom are part-time employees, now make up more than half the teaching staff in the system. They receive an average rate per-class equivalent to a $50,645 salary.
Tribune staff writer Nick Wilson contributed to this story.