The California Faculty Association, the voice of the California State University faculty, voted Wednesday to decline the contract proposed by the CSU and have a series of strikes across all 23 campuses.
The CFA and the CSU have completed the final steps of negotiating a contract and are currently in a blackout period where the findings of the fact-finder, or mediator, are undisclosed. The blackout ends March 26, and at that time the CFA will announce their position and future plans.
Dr. David Ballard, sociology professor and CSUN’s CFA chapter president, said that 81 percent of the union’s members voted and of that number, 94 percent voted in favor of a strike.
“In political terms that isn’t a landslide, that’s an avalanche,” Ballard said.
On the topic of the pro-strike vote, Ballard said, “The faculty woke up and stood up for themselves. It’s just a shame that it came to this. This is a great, but bittersweet day.”
In regard to a CSU response, Ballard said that to his knowledge, the CFA bargaining team has been trying to contact the CSU, but as of yet has received no response.
On Sunday the CSU Board of Trustees will meet once again to discuss the contract negotiations so far.
The Associated Students decided at Tuesday’s Senate meeting to pass a resolution to remain neutral on the topic of faculty contract negotiations.
A.S. President Adam Salgado said the decision was arrived at after careful consideration of the facts and of the opinions of CSUN students. Ultimately, Salgado said, because there is no student in the bargaining room with the CFA and CSU, there is no way for the A.S. to receive all the details.
“The facts that we got from CFA and CSU were completely different,” Salgado said after numerous representatives from both sides presented information before the A.S. Senate.
Salgado contradicted the idea that the Senate’s decision was influenced by CSUN administrators by saying, “Both the faculty and the administration told us that whatever decision we make will be supported by them.”
When psychology major Lauren was asked her opinion on the faculty strike she said, “I think you gotta do what you gotta do. Education just isn’t valued and the resources aren’t available. It’s a shame that that’s what it comes down to.”
About the decision made by Lauren’s student representatives, she said, “Well, look at who ultimately has the power over them.
“The administration are supposed to support students, faculty and employees, but they’re not, otherwise we wouldn’t be in this situation, and it’s the same with the A.S. They’re supposed to represent students, but they don’t either. Bureaucracy is bureaucracy, whether it’s students or not.”
Brian, a student working on his master’s degree in education, made the observation that the CSU system is not run as if students and quality education are priorities.
“CSU is run like a faceless corporation, taking our money, rushing us out, then handing us a piece of paper,” Brian said. “Then they treat the most important part of our education, our faculty, as though they’re meaningless.”
Two finance majors enjoying a meal were outspoken on the treatment of faculty and the recent A.S. position of neutrality.
“I definitely agree they deserve higher pay,” Lee said. “If the Chancellor, the president and the provost are getting raises with my student fees, I’d much rather my money go to the person teaching me and giving me my education.”
“For the A.S. to take a neutral stand is a cowardly decision and a cowardly act,” R.J. said. “I voted for them so that one, they would get out of my face and stop asking me if I’d voted, and two, so they would represent me.”
R.J. went on to say, “If they see students supporting the faculty like they are, then their decision should have mirrored that.”
“I am confident with their decision they’ve made and they have my support,” Salgado said of the Senate’s decision.
Lee called A.S. “a large group of hypocrites” and R.J. chimed in that “they lack vertebrates.”
“People are dropping out of CSUN and transferring to other schools because they can’t get into classes that they need due to a mismanagement of funds,” R.J. said. “If CSU executives can’t manage our money correctly, like paying our employees and faculty a decent wage, then why should we pay more for their laziness?”
Salgado said he personally hopes the CFA and CSU can come up with a compromise and he hopes it does not come down to a vote, although he said, “that’s their perogative.”
Denise, a sociology major, said she would wait to voice her opinion on the faculty strike until it began to affect her personally. But she did say that it must be frustrating for one teacher to have 45 students in a class and that is “a big issue.”
“Our faculty are educated people with their own reasons for striking,” Denise said. “If my job wasn’t paying me enough, I’d quit, but by trying to work this out the faculty are showing that they care.”