CFA and CSU tentative agreement awaits approval

Gabrielle Moreira

File photo/Daily Sundial. The California Faculty Association and the CSU reach a tentative agreement on a new faculty contract to maintain salaries, benefits and allow negotiations. The agreement comes after the majority of association members agreed in April to strike in the fall if the CSU Chancellor did not meet CFA needs.

After two years of negotiations, the California Faculty Association (CFA) has reached a tentative agreement with the CSU system on a new faculty contract that would maintain salaries and benefits and allow for negotiations as early as October.

In addition to maintaining salaries and benefits, if ratified, the contract would also improve sabbatical requests and evaluation processes, maintain pay for teachers during summer sessions for regular campus classes, and include tenured counselors into the Faculty Early Retirement Program.  Counselors had been excluded from the program until now.

Negotiations for better salaries and benefits could start as early as Oct. 1 for the 2012-2013 school year as well as 2013-2014.

The new contract also provides a campus based equity program, which will help staff that have not received raises since 2008 be first in line for better pay once money is available.

The tentative agreement comes after the majority of association members agreed in April to strike in the fall if the CSU Chancellor could not meet CFA needs.

Union members had walked out on negotiations with the CSU because of a long list of items from the previous contract, which expired June 2010, that Chancellor Charles Reed wanted removed.

The chancellor proposed salary cuts, a new system for faculty layoffs, temporary appointments for lecturers, stricter regulations on evaluations and sabbatical requests, excluding coaches from contractual benefits, and eliminating doctoral program fee waivers.

Each proposal was stopped or revised during negotiations with CFA members.

A statement from CFA highlighting the proposed contract settlement and provisions said, “The chancellor’s ‘take away’ proposals would have resulted in losses of important protections and gains won in past contracts.”

The contract will not become effective until it has been agreed upon by the CSU board of trustees and union members. The CSU board of trustees will consider the contract during a two-day meeting on Sept. 18-19 at their Long Beach offices. Union members will have ballot results by Sept. 4.

The CFA bargaining team and board of directors recommend ratification of the contract. Voting is currently underway with the CFA. They will have until Thursday, Aug. 30 by 5 p.m. to cast their votes.

“We [the CFA] think, under the circumstances, it’s a good contract for our members,” said Andy Merrifield, professor of political science at Sonoma State University and chair of the CFA Sonoma chapter. “It protects us against future cuts.”

If the contract isn’t ratified by both parties, over 400,000 students would be affected by a strike, but Merrifield is optimistic.

“There seems to be very widespread support among faculty,” he said. “We are reaching out and informing colleagues since the vote lies with individual members of CFA.”

There are about 12,000 active CFA members spread out over the 23 campuses in the CSU system, which includes CTVA Professor Nate Thomas who is the interim president of CFA’s CSUN chapter. Thomas is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

“The agreement, which covers the 23,000 instructional faculty, coaches, librarians, and counselors on the 23 campuses of the California State University, will be in effect through June 30, 2014,” according to a joint statement released by the CFA and CSU on July 31.