Originally Published March 27, 2007
On Sunday, the CSU committee on bargaining convened a special meeting to discuss the recently released fact finder’s report and later made an agreement with California Faculty Association President John Travis and the CFA bargaining team to re-enter contract negotiations using the report as a “framework.”
The CFA and CSU have mutually agreed to extend the faculty’s 2001-04 contract for 10 more days, at the end of which the CFA hopes to have a new contract while their strike plans remain on hold.
Although the fact finder’s report covered many areas other than faculty pay, salary has been the most contentious issue.
The fact finder stated when reviewing the issues on both sides, “Neither party brought forward any hard budget numbers or calculations for the Panel to review and the University confirmed for the Panel that it was not contending that it did not have the ‘ability to pay.'”
After finding that the CPEC report, no matter how salary was deduced, showed that CSU professors have significant salary lags, she stated, “Neither party’s proposal will eliminate the double digit salary lag but both parties’ proposals will make progress toward its elimination.
In response to the fact finder’s report, Jackie R. McClain’s response for the CSU was at the end of the report.
McClain said that although she can envision the CSU making some concessions, “it should not be concluded that the beliefs and positions that the CSU has consistently sought to argue over the last 20 months are any less sincerely or strongly held, but rather it should be seen as a clear and demonstrable indication of the CSU’s continuing commitment to the collective bargaining process.”
The fact finder stated in her report, “Given the University’s stated interest in pay for performance its resistance to (Service Salary Increases) is puzzling.”
At the meeting on Sunday, more than 30 faculty members were present, including the CFA bargaining team, and were armed with signs that stated “Face the Facts,” in reference to the fact finder’s report.
While the CSU committee on bargaining met in a closed session, two CSUN professors spoke with the Sundial about their hopes and concerns.
Monica Turner, a professor of Pan-African studies and a two-time CSUN graduate, spoke of her disappointment in the CSU system.
“I don’t know why in our nation, a great nation, education is not a priority,” Turner said. “It’s nonsensical and absurd, unless all it comes down to are housing allowances and golden parachutes.
“The CSU seems somewhat hostile to students with the increase in tuition, crowded classrooms, inaccessible classes, prolonged graduations – it’s a vicious cycle,” Turner continued. “They seem to deprive already disadvantaged students and that doesn’t seem very admirable.
“What message does it send to students when their faculty is treated as unworthy and they have to pay more to get less?” she asked.
Her hopes for the day were to “resolve the conflict, avoid a strike, and let me get back to my job of teaching students.”
Turner’s message to the CSU administration, as a professor and an alumna, before the open meeting was, “Where’s your humanity? If you can’t find it, try looking under your golden parachute.”
Theresa Monta?o, a Chicano/a studies professor and vice president of the CSUN CFA chapter, said she wasn’t surprised by the fact finder’s report.
“I had faith that our folks on the bargaining team were acting in good faith,” she said.
When asked why she had come that day to the Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach, Monta?o replied, “The faculty contract negotiations are just a symptom of the overall struggle to save the CSU system.”
In reference to CSUN’s administration specifically, Monta?o said, “Our administration regurgitates what the CSU and Chancellor wants – they’re spokespeople and it shows where their loyalty lies.”
While the faculty milled around outside the Chancellor’s Office, wearing their “We don’t want to strike, but we will” T-shirts and carrying their signs, Travis addressed them and thanked them for supporting him.
“If I was the only one here I know I’d be screwed, so it’s good to have friends and colleagues here with me today,” Travis said.
The overall feeling among those present was that although they hoped the CSU would renegotiate, they had not been given any indication that that would be the case. In fact, due to what Chancellor Charles Reed called a “technicality,” a proposal was sent to the CFA on Friday giving them only two days to reply before the Sunday meeting.
The CSU committee on bargaining met in a closed session for only 45 minutes before inviting the crowd in.
Reed looked casual and relaxed in a pastel yellow shirt, and said immediately after sitting that he would like for Travis to meet with him in a closed session. A tentative applause followed from the crowd.
Two minutes later, Reed and Travis returned to the room and Reed announced, “John and I have reached an agreement to extend the contract and work within the framework of the fact finder’s report, but it would be a ‘quiet period.'”
The crowd seemed unprepared for this announcement and the meeting soon ended.
When asked what had changed for Reed and the CSU bargaining team, Reed replied, “I don’t think much changed at all.”
Dr. David Ballard, CSUN CFA chapter president, attributed the change to the strike vote.
“They may not like us, but after the vote, they might take us seriously,” he said.
Lt. Gov. John Garamendi was also present for the special Sunday meeting. He said he felt it necessary to come to show that California values the CSU system.
“Students may not know it because of the fee increase, but the economy and social justice of the state is directly tied to higher education ? Unfortunately, the legislature has realized they don’t have to raise taxes if the Board of Trustees keeps increasing student fees,” Garamendi said. “It’s essentially a tax on the students.”
Travis said all he wants is a contract that’s fair and Reed’s decision “gives hope that he’s going to help.”
Ballard said he still believes a strike might be a possibility.
“Something’s going on over there, I just don’t know what,” Ballard said. “Why the last minute change of heart? Why the special Sunday meeting?”