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CSU Faculty Begin Strike Voting

Aired 4/17/12 on KPBS News.

Cal State faculty union members began voting yesterday on whether to authorize their first system-wide strike.

— Members of the Cal State University faculty union began voting yesterday on whether to authorize their first ever system-wide strike. A two-campus strike was held in November 2011. Local union chapter leaders expect members to vote overwhelmingly in favor of a walk out next fall.

If Cal State faculty do approve the strike, the 2012-13 school year could start with a series of two-day walks outs rolling across the systems’ 23 campuses. Contract negotiations between CSU and the California Faculty Association ended April 6 without an agreement.

As of last week about 87 percent of Cal State San Marcos union members had pledged to vote in favor of a strike, according to Don Barrett, a sociology professor and the school's union chapter president.

San Diego State University chapter president and Africana Studies Professor Charles Toombs said about two-thirds of the campus’ members had pledged to vote yes, but many are hoping the conviction to strike will be enough.

“We’re just hoping that by our show of solidarity via this strike authorization vote that the legislature and the governor will intervene and that we can still bargain at the table and not actually have to go out on strike,” he said.

The CFA wants to extend the last contract for professors, lecturers librarians counselors and coaches, which ended June 30, 2010. CSU officials are proposing changes to faculty appointment processes, evaluations, summer course compensation and several other areas.

In a letter to faculty, CSU Vice Chancellor Gail Brooks estimated the cost of the CFA contract proposal to be more than $500 million.

The CFA contends university officials would not agree to low and no-cost contract changes and that the system has approved higher pay for executives while denying increases for faculty.

The contract process passes to a third-party fact finder. Once fact-finding is complete CSU officials can make a last and best offer which the union can accept or reject. If members authorize a strike it could take place if the union rejects that final offer.

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