Written by The Business Journal Staff
California State University and the California Faculty Association (CFA) announced the tentative terms of an agreement between the groups today, averting one of the largest planned faculty strikes in higher education.
The announcement was made during a joint news conference earlier today and comes less than a week before the CFA’s planned five-day strike across all 23 campuses, including Fresno State. The protests were expected to affect more than 470,000 students.
The strike was initially planned in protest over the university’s stagnant pay, but was averted after both sides agreed to a new plan calling for a series of pay increases.
“Most of us are not radicals and all this militant activity was not truly what we wanted,” said Jennifer Eagan, president of CFA.
Timothy White, chancellor of the CSU system, agreed and said both groups were motivated during the negotiations to avoid any disruption for the students.
“To be honest, nobody wanted a strike,” he said.
While the tentative agreement still needs to be formally ratified by both the university and CFA, White and Eagan said both sides are pleased by the outcome. The agreement meets many of the CFA’s salary increase requests and includes a 10.5 percent salary increase to faculty over the next three years.
An initial five percent raise would be given to faculty at the end of the current budget year, 2 percent on July 1, 2016 and 3.5 percent on July 1, 2017.
“The faculty spoke up for five percent and got it,” Eagan said.
Faculty eligible for a Service Salary Increase in year three of the agreement would also be given a 2.65 percent raise. Other changes include the doubling of vesting time from five to 10 years, for any new faculty hired after fall 2017.
While the CSU has previously said a five percent raise for faculty would be impossible without taking money from other programs, White said officials were able to use a new payment timeline to avoid the problem. The negotiations were also buoyed by a recent fact-finder’s report, siding with the CFA’s calls for a 5 percent pay increase.
“The rates were never in dispute, we knew it was under market, but the report did get us back to looking at a multiple-year solution,” he said. “The problem with faculty’s salaries took multiple years to develop and it’s going to take years to address.”
Eagan agreed and said that while the pay increase would help faculty who had been “languishing financially for a decade,” the Chancellor’s decision to personally join in the most recent negotiations also helped to improve the faculty’s relationship with CSU officials.
“The nature of negotiations changed when the Chancellor got personally involved,” she said. “How faculty are treated is important to the educational environment for the students.”