CSUN’s reasons why CFA demands aren’t met

John Chandler

CSUN Public Relations Director Special to the Daily Sundial

In your March 6, 2007, editorial, the Daily Sundial wrote about “wanting to know the whole story” on the ongoing contract dispute between the Cal State system and the California Faculty Association. Let me endeavor to answer some of those questions.

One fact students should understand is that bargaining for a new faculty contract is handled at the CSU system level through the Chancellor’s Office, and not by Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester or other campus presidents. Under the state’s laws governing collective bargaining, it is not proper for campus administrators to insert themselves into the very formalized state bargaining process.

Keeping in mind those restrictions, President Koester has in fact widely discussed and answered general questions about the status of bargaining with faculty members throughout the school year in a range of forums. In doing so, the president has often encouraged the campus community to remember the mission of the university and our shared goals that will remain long after the current dispute is settled.

President Koester also has demonstrated her commitment to supporting faculty and students by allocating an extra $1 million in 2005-06 and $300,000 in 2006-07 to fund increased faculty hiring. That translated into an extra dozen new tenure-track faculty positions this year. In fact, Cal State Northridge has, on average, hired about 50 new tenure-track faculty positions annually since 2001, among the most in the CSU system.

Regarding labor relations, it is worth noting that the Cal State system has never in its history had a system-wide faculty strike. This year, the CSU has already successfully reached new contract agreements with 9 of its 11 employee groups, including those representing staff members. Here at Northridge, we continue to hope the CSU and the CFA will be able to reach some resolution soon.

You asked in the editorial “why they (the CSU) could not give the CFA what they wanted.” The simple answer is the Cal State system depends on two main sources of funding for its operations: state dollars and student fees. To simply “give the CFA what they wanted” would require some combination of state funding beyond what has been promised, higher student fees, or cutting campus expenditures.

The Cal State system in recent years has repeatedly sought significantly increased funding from the state for campus enrollment growth, campus operations, and employee pay raises. Sometimes those requests have been granted, sometimes they have been denied and sometimes, particularly in recent years, the state has instead imposed funding cuts because of broader state budget deficits. In the end, the CSU can only bargain contracts and fund campuses with the dollars it receives.