Ratcheting up the pressure in an ongoing dispute over raises, the California State University faculty union announced Tuesday that it has secured the support of more than a dozen regional labor councils for a strike that it may call in the coming weeks.
Should the California Faculty Association strike over what it says has been a persistent underfunding of teaching staff during the past decade, union umbrella groups for counties encompassing 19 of the 23 CSU campuses – including the Sacramento Central Labor Council – have promised their own sanctions on the university.
“We are standing shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with the tens of thousands of faculty across the state,” Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which represents 800,000 unionized employees in an area covering five CSU campuses, said during a press conference. “That means the picket lines do not get crossed. The mail does not get dropped off. The trash doesn’t get picked up.”
Arguing that their salaries have not kept up with inflation, and hiring has fallen behind enrollment growth, the faculty union – which represents approximately 25,000 CSU professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches – is seeking a 5 percent compensation hike for the 2015-16 academic year. The union also seeks an additional 2.65 percent increase for about 12,000 members who are at the lower end of their pay rank.
CSU offered an across-the-board 2 percent raise to employees this year. The system has rejected the faculty’s plan, which it says would cost three times as much and consume up to one-half of the $217 million funding increase it received in the state budget last June.
The bargaining process between the faculty association and the university that began last May is nearing a legal impasse that would allow the union to strike. Faculty previously authorized strikes during contract negotiations in 2007 and 2012, before settling with management, and conducted a one-day strike at two campuses in 2011 to protest budget cuts.