CFA approves strike vote with overwhelming majority

Members of the California Faculty Association announced Wednesday morning they had approved a tentative, scheduled strike following a ten-day long authorization vote last month.

In a press briefing at San Jose State University, CFA president and CSU East Bay faculty member Jennifer Eagen said more than 94 percent of voters had approved the strike.

The approved strike vote was launched in response to stalled salary negotiations between the union and the Cal State University chancellor’s office. Neither the CFA nor the CSU have budged on their respective 5 and 2 percent salary increase proposals.

The teaching union argues that the chancellor’s office has failed to include key factors in the assessment of CSU faculty salaries, such as rising inflation and a devaluing of their work.

“2 percent doesn’t keep up with inflation and 2 percent also doesn’t even begin to dig us out of the hole that faculty has suffered for the last ten years,” said CFA Associate Vice President Kevin Wehr.

“It’s one thing to ask us to tighten our belts during hard times because we want to serve our students,” added Eagen. “But the recession is over, the governor and legislature has reinvested in the CSU, and now is the time for us to catch up and I think the faculty has a very clear sense of that.”

An organized strike, however, can only be done after the fact-finding process that researches both sides’ arguments is finished, which according to Wehr, has already begun.

“We’ll put on a case, management will put on a case and a three-person panel will make a decision,” said Wehr, who will also lead the CFA’s side in the fact-finding process. “That’s a decision that won’t happen until January.”

In an emailed response, the chancellor’s office said the CSU “remains committed to the collective bargaining process and reaching a negotiated agreement with the California Faculty Association.”

CFA members went on strike previously on Nov. 17, 2011, when faculty and supporters launched demonstrations at CSU Dominguez Hills and East Bay campuses.

This November, on the same day, CFA faculty plan to picket at the scheduled CSU Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach to make their demands heard.

“We’re going to be there with a lot of faculty from all 23 campuses, we’re going to be there with students, we’re going to be there with our labor [and] community allies and all the folks interested in quality, affordable higher education in California,” said Eagen.