CSU compensation increase proposed

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The California Faculty Association has voiced concerns following the recent release of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s higher education compact, through which he has proposed $211.7 million for the California State University’s 2005-06 budget.

Under the compact, $88.1 million will be used to support a 3.5 percent compensation increase for faculty and staff in the CSU system.

But the CFA is fighting the proposed budget, in part, because of the way the governor and the CSU estimated how much of a compensation increase faculty and staff needed, said Alice Sunshine, communications director for the CFA.

“Last year in May, Chancellor (Charles) Reed and the governor made a private deal, and they came up with the compact,” Sunshine said. “Many (of the decisions) are critical, because (they were) done in private, and nobody was asked what was needed or how much.”

Sunshine said the CFA is also against the proposed budget because the increase will apply to everyone, but does not guarantee that everyone will get the same 3.5 percent increase in compensation, Sunshine said.

In fact, some may get more than others, she said.

“The faculty feels that they are doing the most work,” Sunshine said. “They are teaching. They feel that they should get paid more than administrators, and get more raises, but this does not happen.”

Another criticism made by the CFA is that the 3.5 percent increase is not a true pay raise, but only a compensation.

“They don’t mean (an increase in) your salary,” Sunshine said. “It’s your benefits, pension plans, health care. And of course, the CSU administrators will get more compensation than faculty and staff.”

Although the 3.5 percent increase was set in an attempt to close the faculty and staff salary gap that exists in the CSU system, it is doubtful there will be any real changes after the increase, said Michael Reagan, president of CSUN’s CFA chapter.

“Realistically, I doubt we can get an increase in (pay) this year,” he said. “The money is just not in the state.”

According to budget information released by the CSU, the system, if the 2005-2006 proposed budget is passed, will have experienced a loss of $522 million since the 2003-2004 academic year. This reduction has led to serious problems for the CSU, including enrollment reductions, cuts in student services and what the CSU calls “an inability to make progress on a growing faculty and staff salary gap.”

CSU authorities have not spoken publicly on the extent of the faculty and staff salary gap, but in July 2003, the CSU released a letter stating that the CSU had been forced to eliminate or freeze 2,300 positions.

In the 2003 letter, Reed, CSU chancellor, also stated that faculty positions would be reduced by 3.9 percent, while other employee positions would be reduced by 11 percent.

According to Reagan, the CSU finds it difficult to recruit faculty, primarily because the pay is minimal.

“Our pay is so low that even if we have an increase, it won’t be much of a difference,” said Reagan. “But as I said, the money is not there.”

A fact that has been overlooked is that the budget shows there will be an $88.1 million increase for faculty and staff, while only $23.3 million will be allocated for financial aid, Sunshine said.

“What happened is that the trustees did not ask for enough (money) in order to have enough for all the programs,” she said. “When you start to take apart the whole system, you begin to realize you need funds for everything.” “You need money for financial aid, classrooms and teachers. If you don’t (meet) these needs, you don’t have much of a school.”

According to Reagan, the budget has yet to pass.

“Talks about this budget will go on through the summer and fall,” Reagan said.