California State University walked out of a negotiating session with its faculty union last week and announced pay increases that union negotiators had rejected, resulting in a faculty strike.
The union, representing 29,000 faculty at San Jose State and 22 other CSU campuses, responded by announcing a one-week strike, beginning when classes resume next Monday for 400,000 students statewide.
Beginning Jan. 31, CSU faculty will see 5% increases in their paychecks, and will be working without a contract.
During eight months of negotiations on a new contract, the union had stuck with a demand for a 12% raise this year, saying its members were reeling from the inflation over the past two years.
The CSU system negotiators stuck to a 5% pay increase, an amount it had successfully negotiated last year with five of seven unions.
An independent factfinder in December recommended that the two sides agree to a 7% raise, plus other compromises, and tie future raises to annual inflation rates. But an offer of above 5% could have reopened salary negotiations with the other unions.
CSU’s offer of a total of 15% in raises across three years made the increases for the last two contingent on the state continuing to grow Cal State’s funding by 5% annually.
Last May, CSU predicted its revenues would be $1.5 billion short of what it needs to adequately educate its students. That prompted the board of trustees last September to approve five years of consecutively escalating tuition hikes—increases totaling 34% over that time.
The union said the university has plenty of money set aside to pay its teachers.
“Rather than bargain in good faith with CFA members, CSU management expressed nothing but disdain for faculty. We know they have the money in their flush reserve accounts,” the union said in a statement. “Chancellor Mildred García and her team seem intent on a campaign of insult and intimidation.”
In a statement, CSU administrators said the raises announced for all instructional faculty, librarians, counselors and coaches “conclude contract negotiations and exhaust the state’s impasse process.”
“Throughout the bargaining process, the CFA never veered from its initial salary demand, which was not financially viable and would have resulted in massive cuts to campuses—including layoffs—that would have jeopardized the CSU’s educational mission… leaving us no other option,” said Leora Freedman, vice chancellor for human resources. “The CSU remains committed to the collective bargaining process.”