As debt-saddled California faces increased budget cuts in the coming year, educators in the state’s largest public university system are poised to authorize a future strike, even as they agreed today to return to the negotiating table to discuss key issues in their labor dispute with the California State University.
Faculty within the CSU are preparing to take the next step in a long struggle for a new contract as they vote throughout the next two weeks on the possibility of a 23-campus rolling strike sometime in the future if the next steps in negotiations fail.
Members of the California State Faculty Association, which represents roughly 23,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches who teach within the system, say they want a contract that addresses concerns over pay increases, academic freedom and the direction of the system.
“We are a public university,” said Wei Ming Dariotis, an associate professor of Asian American studies and the CFA chapter president at SF State. “What the administrators are saying [with these proposals] is that they don’t value us. And what that means is that they don’t value students.”
Erik Fallis, a CSU spokesman, said today that CFA leaders had agreed to return to negotiations despite going forward with the strike vote. “We are going back to the table,” he said. “We have always said that we want to come to a negotiated settlement.”
The most recent CFA contract expired at the end of June 2010, and negotiations have soured, with concerns about the for-profit model Chancellor Charles B. Reed has espoused as a central point of contention.
“Education should not be run as a for-profit corporation,” said Georgia Gero-Chen, a lecturer in the English department at San Francisco State University. “It should be a nonprofit.”
In recent years, many classes, including all summer session courses, were moved to Extended Learning programs, where students pay more – $332 per unit for resident undergraduates as opposed to as low as $178 a unit if enrolled full time during a semester — and faculty are paid less to teach.
“I won’t teach in Extended Learning anymore because it exploits students and faculty,” said Gero-Chen. <Read more.>