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Cal State Faculty Plan To Strike In April

Faculty at all campuses, including San Diego State and Cal State San Marcos, would take part

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Students are shown walking on the campus of San Diego State University, Feb. 8, 2016.

Stepping up its push for a new labor contract, the union representing California State University faculty announced plans Monday to carry out a five-day strike in April at all 23 campuses — including San Diego State and Cal State San Marcos — if a deal isn't reached before then.

Stepping up its push for a new labor contract, the union representing California State University faculty announced plans Monday to carry out a five-day strike in April at all 23 campuses — including San Diego State and Cal State San Marcos — if a deal isn't reached before then.

"We've said all along that we don't want to strike, but we will if we have to," said Jennifer Eagan, president of the California Faculty Association. "We must take a stand so that we can support our families, protect our profession and provide high quality education for our students.

"A strike is our last resort and we still hope that the chancellor will invest in the faculty who are the major determinant of our students' success."

According to the union, a walkout will be held April 13, 14, 15, 18 and 19 at all 23 campuses if a deal isn't struck before then. Members of the CFA have already voted to authorize a strike.

Arzu Ozkal, who teaches graphic design at San Diego State University, said 5 percent isn’t a lot of money but it symbolizes respect.

"It’s not really going to change my life drastically getting a 5 percent raise, or anybody's life," she said. "It’s not really that much. And 2 percent is a joke."

Doreen Mattingly, a San Diego State University women's studies professor, said this strike is about more than just salaries.

"When does the middle class find a vehicle to stand up and say, 'no we’re not moving backwards any more,'" she said. "And people aren’t familiar with unions being that vehicle but that’s exactly what’s happening here. It’s a union of middle class workers fighting for the middle class."

CSU officials said the collective bargaining process is continuing, and a walkout can't occur until that process ends, but preparations are still being made in case a strike does happen.

"The California State University remains committed to reaching a resolution," according to a CSU statement. "Campuses are preparing for the possibility of a strike. If a strike occurs, campuses intend to remain open. Many classes will be offered, and students should check with their instructors regarding the status of their classes. The strike should not interfere with students being able to complete their semester and quarter courses and graduate on time."

The faculty association is pushing for a 5 percent salary increase for faculty members, but the CSU is offering 2 percent.

CSU officials have said a 5 percent increase for CFA faculty would cost $68.9 million over the 2 percent the university is offering. The cost to the university could balloon to $107.2 million when other labor unions ask for the same increase, according to the CSU.

Darel Engen, an associate professor of history at Cal State San Marcos, said instructors are sick of gamesmanship from the CSU administration.

"We're tired of playing games with the chancellor," Engen said. "This has gone long enough."

He said the CFA can't strike until after a fact-finding process ends around the end of March.

The strike shouldn't impact students who are preparing to graduate, he said. Students would benefit from the job action if it gets instructors more pay so they don't have to take second jobs, as some do now, according to Engen.

About half of the CSU's 25,000 faculty are members of the CFA, according to the university.

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