The California Faculty Association (CFA) offered bread and soup to faculty members on the Oviatt Lawn Oct. 1 in symbolic protest of the fact that the first paychecks of the new school year have been cut by 10 percent.
“I’m working three jobs and I’m working part time at Pierce College, and I’m still making less than I was before the budget cuts,” said Cecile Bendavid, part-time lecturer and secretary for the CFA.
All 23 universities of the California State University system have lost, in total, $585 million with state budget cuts. Faculty and staff have had a 10 percent cut in their salaries. Students have had a 32 percent increase in their tuition for 2009-10.
“We’re having an old-fashioned bread line like they had in the 1930s for our faculty,” said Dr. Allen Martin, professor of family and consumer sciences, who appropriately made the soup.
“We are also throwing copies of our paychecks into an oil barrel to represent the profits of the California oil corporations,” Martin added.
In an effort to help supplement some of the state funding, the CFA supports Assembly Bill 656 and Assembly Bill 218.
AB 656: The Oil/Natural Gas Severance Tax for Higher Education, was introduced by Assembly member Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont) and majority leader of the Assembly and sponsored by the CFA.
The bill would create a source of funding for California’s public higher education by enacting a new severance tax on oil companies and natural gas companies. Currently, California is only one of 22 major oil-producing states in the nation that does not tax oil as it is pumped out of the ground. A similar fund has been available in Texas since the 1800s.
The CFA is also sponsoring Senate Bill 218 along with the California Newspapers and Publishers Association. This bill would update the California Public Records Act (CPRA) to include auxiliary organizations that receive public funds or perform government functions on state campuses. Organizations could include student unions, on-campus bookstores, university enterprises, foundations and parking revenue funds.
“Placing college and university auxiliaries under the authority of the state’s public records act will safeguard the use of public funds and provide much needed accountability and oversight to state policy makers, “ said John Travis, chair of CFA’s Committee on Political Action and Legislation.
SB 218 passed the state Senate by a margin of 35 to 1 and was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee and must now be voted on by the full Assembly.
“We are planning a Unity Day in the spring where everyone takes a furlough on the same day,” said Professor Holli Tonyan, professor of psychology and volunteer activist for the CFA.
“We start school in August and we don’t get paid until Oct. 1. It’s a long time until payday. This year we had to take two furlough days in August and it made our first paychecks considerably short, plus the 10 percent budget cut,” Tonyan said.