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Deal That Averted CSU Strike Calls For 10.5% Raises

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Associated Press

Kevin Wehr, left, chair of the California Faculty Association bargaining team, and a professor of Sociology at California State University, Sacramento, discusses the independent report that supports the position that faculty members at the California State University system are underpaid, during a news conference at CSU, Sacramento, March 28, 2016.

California State University officials and the union that represents faculty members say the agreement that forestalled a 23-campus strike would increase salaries by 10.5 percent over three years and double how long it takes newly hired instructors to be eligible for retirement benefits.

The tentative deal announced Friday represents a compromise between the 26,000 member California Faculty Association and the nation's largest public university system and comes as both sides girded for an unprecedented five-day work stoppage next week.

"To be honest, nobody wanted to strike. The faculty didn't want to strike. I didn't want to strike," said Chancellor Timothy White in a phone call Friday morning. "This is a very good thing, to have averted that interruption. It's also great for students, because as we invest in faculty we invest in students' learning environment and their success."

The faculty association, which represents professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches, had scheduled a systemwide strike starting Wednesday to protest the size of the pay increases the university planned to give its members this year.

Before the agreement was reached, the union had demanded a 5 percent increase for 2015-16. The university had said it could only afford 2 percent.

Doreen Mattingly, an associate professor at San Diego State and one of the campus' strike organizers, said her colleagues have struggled as the cost of living outpaced their salaries.

"From foreclosures on mortgages to inability to buy houses and to get in, to not being able to pay off students loans — all the things that you don't think are going to happen to you when you get a PhD and a good job at a public university," Mattingly said.

Faculty received raises of less than 2 percent in 2013 and 2014, after a five-year freeze on pay increases.

Friday's deal will raise salaries by 5 percent on June 30, 2 percent on July 1 and another 3.5 percent next year.

White said there won't be any cuts in programs or enrollment to accommodate the raise. He said because the university system had already budgeted for 2 percent raises in 2015 and 2016, and because the new raise will not be retroactive and will roll out over three budget cycles, the system is in a good position to make good on its offer.

"We have other ideas and known sources that are still a work in progress, but we're confident with the outcome," White said. "We also will be working with all of the elected officials in Sacramento who expressed interest in us finding a solution like we have, and expressed interested in helping us fund that solution through the legislative process."

White said he is also confident heading into negotiations with four other unions on CSU campuses. They have fairness clauses in their contracts that require management to renegotiate terms if other workers strike a better deal.

CFA members still must ratify their deal. Mattingly said her colleagues are surprised by the generous offer and will have no problem signing off on it.


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