The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Uncomfortable truth behind CFA strike letter to students

Students%2C+CFA%2C+and+CSUEU+members+march+up+Cleary+Walk+towards+the+library+at+CSUN+on+Dec.+5.
Students, CFA, and CSUEU members march up Cleary Walk towards the library at CSUN on Dec. 5.

Imagine you put in the grueling work it takes to graduate. You spend months, even years applying for professorial work to land a part-time lecturer position. You work even harder teaching multiple classes, multiple campuses, and countless students; maybe you even become tenured.  

You teach and survive through an unprecedented global pandemic. After all your hard work, you approach your boss only to be told that keeping you above the poverty line is “not financially viable.”   

Yeah, I’d be on strike too.  

In a recent letter to CSUN students, Dr. Komarraju and Dr. Watkins defended the CSU claiming “both CFA and Teamsters have demanded a general salary increase that would result in cuts to programs and potentially layoffs on our campuses.” Additionally, they told students the CSU fairly compensates its employees by citing their recent 5% general salary increase.  

Students should know that these statements conveniently withhold key context which brings the factuality and sincerity of their statements into question.   

CSU indeed offered a general salary increase of 5% for its employees this year. If this is true, then why is CFA striking? Why all the fuss? 

According to an independent fact-finding team, a minimum 9.9% wage increase would be necessary for faculty pay to keep up with inflation. This means that CSU’s 5% proposal actually translates to a 4.9% wage decrease for CSU faculty.  

Acknowledging the strain a 9.9% raise might add to the budget, the team proposed a compromise of 7% with other enhancements. CSU chose to disregard this inconvenient fact, double down, and walk out of the negotiations 

This has forced faculty to strike in the street for decent pay—ask your professors, they don’t want this. Meanwhile, CSU remains shamelessly willing to dish out lavish salaries for its administrators.  

While instructor salaries have only grown only 22% over the past 15 years, Cal State president salaries have soared by 43%. Last year—before the current negotiations—the Cal State Board of Trustees even approved an appalling 27% compensation increase for Chancellor Garcia, bringing her total compensation just shy of a million dollars a year.  

Does this seem like “fair compensation” to you? 

While the CSU complains about the supposed unaffordability of professor raises, researchers have found CSU’s reserves and cash flow surpluses are more than able to pay for what the CFA is asking for.  

Despite CSU’s hesitancy to touch its multi-billion dollar surplus, the analysis concluded that dipping into these reserves would be unnecessary, as CFA’s request could be fulfilled by the system’s existing annual surplus. It appears the CSU has deep pockets for the ones closest to them, but not for you or your professors. 

Speaking of you, the letter also failed to mention that the CFA strike is as much about students as it is about faculty. While “fairly” negotiating with faculty, CSU found it relatively easy to vote for a 34% increase in tuition 

CSUN assumes students may feel “uncomfortable” crossing a week-long picket. As a student, I feel far more uncomfortable being slapped with hundreds in additional tuition costs over the next five years.  

CSUN has purposefully avoided mentioning to us that the CFA has been actively fighting these tuition raises. In addition to faculty raises, the CFA has been negotiating for more mental health counselors, accessible lactation spaces, gender-inclusive restrooms, and university police reforms.  

Knowing this, the shouts and chants you’ll hear on the picket line should assure you that our faculty cares about our success here at CSUN. They are not against us. 

The CSU has forced our faculty into a corner; they’ve forced us to miss our first week of school after we’ve already paid our tuition. Faculty pay cuts and tuition increases will undoubtedly decrease the quality of our experience here.  

As inconvenient as this strike may be, its presence on our campus is an unfortunate necessity. Without the current and future bargaining efforts of the CFA, being a CSUN student will truly become more uncomfortable.  

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