Faculty union, CSU agree on pay raises

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The California Faculty Association and the California State University reached an agreement last month that will produce a general salary increase of 3.5 percent for faculty.

The agreement comes after months of active negotiations between the two parties, which started in May and produced a salary proposal in August, according to Dave Ballard, president of the CSUN chapter of the CFA and member of the bargaining team.

“Negotiations will continue, and a good estimate of when the total bargaining (agreement) will be done is late spring or early summer,” Ballard said.

The deal, which is part of a negotiation process that takes place every three years, produced a general salary increase that will be retroactive to July 1, with the CSU set to start sending out the increased checks in the coming weeks.

“We get together our numbers, and then meet with specific unions who have their numbers,” said Colleen Bentley-Adler, CSU spokesperson, about the bargaining process.

For an assistant professor at CSUN making $50,000 each year before taxes, close to the actual average, the increase will equate to $1,750 in boosted salary.

“I am happy to get any kind of increase,” said Deanna Murray, music professor at CSUN. “The professors who work here have a very heavy load and are very committed.”

The CSU was highly resistant to the 3.5 percent increase in its current form during negotiations, Ballard said, adding that the CFA suspended talks at one point. He said talks were suspended when the CSU tried to attach conditions on the general salary increase in hopes of using some of the money for a merit pay system.

Ballard said the CFA is not averse to merit pay, but that in light of both the length of time since the last pay increase and the questions surrounding the CSU’s plan for a merit pay system, which he said was still unclear, the union simply wanted the 3.5 percent increase.

The 3.5 percent general salary increase, or GSI, is a cost of living pay increase.

“They wanted a merit pay plan where we would take money out of our GSI,” Ballard said. “(The CSU) wanted to take a portion of the GSI to put into a three-year pool of merit pay and that was all the details we got. They had no designs about how that’d work.”

Because faculty have not received a pay increase in three years, primarily as a result of ongoing statewide budget shortfall projected onto the CSU, Ballard said the 3.5 percent increase needs to be looked at over that period of time to “sort of average things out.”

“If we do that, we aren’t even keeping up with inflation,” he said. “The point is that we’re going backwards. Our salaries are going down.”

CSU administrators such as Bentley-Adler, the CSU Chancellor and the campus presidents have not received their 3.5 percent pay raises yet, but will soon, she said.

“Professors are not greedy,” Ballard said. “They want to keep even, not get ahead.”

According to Ballard, the CSU offered the 3.5 percent raise to the various employees unions now in contract talks. Those unions will go through a similar back and forth process with the CSU until a proposal and a deal can be reached.

Both the CSU and Academic Professionals of California and State University Police Association are in the process of bargaining a salary increase, according to Bentley-Alder.

Ryan Denham and Candice Mitchell can be reached editor@csun.edu.