CSUN proposes pay increase after employee protest

The university decided to propose a 2 percent raise for CSUN employees June 15 after members of the California State University Employees Union rallied for a wage increase the day before.

“(The increase) was this year only. It didn’t include any other years,” said Pat Grantt, CSUEU President. “That’s a pretty weak offer.”

He said including the new 2 percent increase to CSUN’s budget is a working process.

“We don’t think the offer keeps up with the cost of living,” Grantt said.

About 50 CSUEU members protested June 14 on the Sierra Lawn before they entered a bargaining session held in the Oviatt Library to address issues regarding pay.

During the bargaining session, members discussed the CSU’s issues, priorities and goals for the future. About 15,000 CSU employees’ contracts will expire June 30.

“The Chancellor needs to take leadership and ask the CSU for more money, because we would like to see a decent wage higher than the cost of living,” Grantt said.

CSUEU Deputy Division Supervisor Dennis Dillon said employees have not had a raise in two years. He said the number of employees at CSUN has not changed since his first year in 1985.

“The CSU is increasing and the amount of students at the university,” Dillion said. “But (the CSU) is not increasing its staff, faculty and the number of classes available to keep up with the students. The CSU has failed in their leadership.”

Proposals are set up through four bargaining units representing all employment categories; health care support unit 2, operations support unit 5, administrative support unit 7 and technical support unit 9.

Dillon said technical support employees earn 10 to 40 percent less than outside markets and health care support employees lack 20 percent in their wages.

Unit 9 has protested on various CSU campuses to raise awareness of the wage increase proposals.

“We’ve been to Sacramento, Fresno, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Long Beach and Dominguez Hills,” said Rocky Waters, chair of bargaining Unit 9.

CSUEU members wore black shirts with the phrase “Rights, Raises and Respect” at the rally.

Several CSUEU members at the rally said they work two jobs to make a living.

“Groceries are not a part of my budget,” said Sylvia Freiberg, Organizing Chair. “My shoes are from Payless, I shop at Ross for clothes and I have to collect bottles and cans (to pay for) groceries. The people who are here rallying today run this school.”

Freiberg said the $50,000 raise Jolene Koester, CSUN president, received last year is more than most employee salaries.

Many CSUN employees at the rally said they believe that they are low priority and not recognized for the workload they undertake.

“We are the backbone of this university,” said James Dacosta, CSUN staff employee.

Another issue the CSUEU discussed was Article 15.4, which is a leave of absence with pay.

“Article 15.4 and 15.5 are still outstanding issues, outstanding and unresolved,” said Teven Laxer, chair of bargaining Unit 9 (technical support).

Article 15 includes sick leave, a catastrophic leave donation program, absences chargeable for sick leave, jury duty, leave to vote, absence as a witness, military leave, supplement to industrial disability leave, parental leave, light/limited duty assignment, and bereavement or funeral leave.

Article 9 was also discussed.It states that faculty unit employees should not engage in strikes or other concerted activity that would interfere with or adversely affect the operations or the mission of the CSU. The article also states that the California Faculty Association should not promote, organize, or support any strike or other concerted activity.

Members who represented the CSUEU during the Oviatt Library bargaining session were Vero Acevedo, Lynn Barba, Sharon Cunningham, Annel Martin, Pam Robertson, Jorge Salinas, Rocky Waters, Dan Westbrook and Donna Dodrill.

Sharyn Abernatha, CSU chancellor spokesperson, and Laxer discussed several articles that were changed and withdrawn.

The CSU bargaining representatives also included Scott Apel, Joyce Suzuki and Lynn Wiegers.

“I think I speak for everyone here, there aren’t any more smart people here today,” Apel said. CSUEU plans on meeting with CSU again in two weeks in San Jose.

“That’s just a starting point,” Grantt said. “Before we meet we’ll basically develop our counter proposal.”