CSUN employee parking fee increase creates tension

Jaclyn Rymer

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Sundial File Photos

Concern and frustration about parking increases has many CSUN employees taking a stand and speaking out about what they are calling a parking injustice.

Many CSUN employees were notified by e-mail on Aug. 27 that their parking rates were going to increase beginning Sept. 1.  What faculty and staff did not realize was not all employees were going to be receiving the same fee increase.

With the fee increase in effect, some employees are paying $15.06 a month for parking whereas others are paying as much as $40 per month based on what collective bargaining unit they fall under.

Throughout all CSU campuses, university employees are part of collective bargaining units.  These units are made up of groups of employees with similar occupational duties.  The units each have their own Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) that outline several job components such as parking.  The CSUN Office of Human Resource’s Web site lists all of the collective bargaining units for the CSU system as well as the seven CBAs.

Collective Bargaining Units 4, 8, 11, E99, C99 and M80 now pay the most for parking out of all the faculty and staff. The price of parking rose from $36 to $40 for these units.

“I totally understand that we’re paying the same parking as students are, but at the same time, why is the rest of the staff paying $15.00?” Geraldine Sare, assistant director of the Liberal Studies Program and Collective Bargaining Unit 4 employee said.  “It just seems overwhelmingly unfair.”

This year’s parking fee increase was recommended to university President Jolene Koester during the 2005-06 academic year to fund the building of the G3 parking structure.  It was also approved for the 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years.   Each year, beginning with the 2007-08 academic year, parking rates have increased $4, but 2009-10 is the last planned increase, said Sharon Eichten, chair of the Student Fee Advisory Committee.

“Who knew that the State of California was going to have such a bad economy,” Eichten said.

Unit 4 is not upset about the actual amount of money they are now paying for parking but rather the results of the bargaining agreements.

By acknowledging the situation of students, employees and other faculty, Unit 4 is willing to sacrifice to make CSUN better especially in these economic times, but the parking fee increase feels like a “breech of faith” in the idea that the university and its employees are supposed to be working together, said Renee Martinez, CSUN chief steward of Collective Bargaining Unit 4, the Academic Professionals of California.

The Unit 4 bargaining agreement was up for renewal last year and the CSU system refused to extend the unit’s agreement; therefore, enabling the CSU system to increase the parking rates, Martinez said.

“We were told when other bargaining unit’s contracts ran out they would raise up to our other units,” said Martinez.  However, side-agreements were made with the larger units so their parking fees would not increase.

“They did it because they could, not because it was right,” Martinez said.  “It shattered the notion of we’re all in this together.”

Before the increases, the benefit Unit 4 and the other units paying full price for parking had was that they were the only employees with access to the parking structures on campus, Sare said.   The rest of the employees had to park in the outside lots but now other employees can park in the structures too, she explained.

“There really is no unfairness in my opinion,” Captain Alfredo Fernandez of Parking and Transportation Services said.  “It’s what the bargaining agreements choose to bargain for and then what happens during the give and take of a bargaining agreement.”

The campus believes that everybody should pay the same amount for parking and the goal is to eventually even the bargaining units so all employees pay the same amount for parking as students, but CSUN has to respect the bargaining agreements made at the CSU system, Fernandez said.