The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Negotiations stalled until after election

The California Faculty Association has reached an impasse in the contract negotiations with the California State University and is now readying for the state to appoint mediators to help them reach an agreement by rallying and educating the public. Last month, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Human Resources Sam Strafaci told the Daily Sundial that it seemed “wise” to get the state involved in the ongoing negotiations. Strafaci is head of the CSU bargaining team, and said in September that the meetings between the CSU and CFA had been “orderly, but informal.”

On Nov. 15, there is a CFA statewide rally scheduled in Long Beach at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting.

“We are on a process that could end in a strike,” said James David Ballard, CSUN’s CFA chapter president.

In a recent letter to the CSU Board of Trustees, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez accused the CSU of postponing their state budget proposal until after the Nov. 7 elections in order to keep information from voters. According to Ballard, CSU has indicated that they plan to raise student fees 10 percent each year over the next five years. The only reason this plan was not implemented this year was because of a surplus tax. If the CSU waits until after the elections to submit the budget, then information about student fees will not be available to parent and student voters.

The contract negotiations have reached this impasse because of the fine print involved, Ballard said. According to the CSU Web site, the proposed percentage increases are based on whether or not the CSU receives government funding. Therefore, if the CSU does not get the necessary amount from the state, then the faculty will not receive a raise.

Salary increases come in two categories: the General Salary Increase represents the annual increase of the cost of living, and the Service Salary Increase represents the raise that comes with being a loyal employee. Unfortunately, Ballard explained, there is a salary inversion because since universities have to compete for new professors, faculty with longer employment times receive less than new hires.

“It’s sad when you hear a teacher say that they would be better off financially if they quit and were rehired,” Ballard said. “You get penalized for being a good employee in the CSU system.”

In a 2001 CSU report, it was found “that the purchasing power of CSU faculty was actually less than it had been 10 years before.” The study conducted by the California Postsecondary Education Commission cited that the actual increase of faculty salary from 2001 to 2006 was found to be more than six times less than the salaries made by comparison institutions.

According to the CSU Web site, as of July 2005, CSUN President Jolene Koester’s salary is $255,024, including paid housing. CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed’s salary is listed as $362,500. The average CSU professor salary is $86,107, but Ballard said the average does not take into account that professors of engineering and science make significantly more than professors of the humanities.

Like the California State University Employees Union, the CFA has not been able to reach an agreement on parking fees.

“Parking is one of our benefits, like health insurance,” Ballard said. “If they raise our parking fees, they’re essentially lowering our salary even more.”

Last month, Strafaci said that some of the CFA’s demands were unrealistic.

When asked why student fees are an issue in faculty negotiations, Ballard responded, “Faculty is the front line. I have to fight to get students in my classes just so they’ll be able to graduate.”

In the CSU contract with the CFA, there is a workload article. This includes the number of students in classrooms and the space needed to teach properly.

“We have to teach students sitting on floors and standing up in the backs of classrooms. We have to fight to get enough money to teach and get students enough teachers,” Ballard said.

Some faculty members criticize the CFA of being too caught up with ideologies and not negotiating exclusively for teachers. However, according to Ballard a teacher’s responsibility to students cannot be taken out of the equation.

Many of the financial issues between the CSU and the people employed by the system need to be taken up with the legislature.

As has been the case in the past, student fees are in danger of being raised in order to support teachers and employees, which according to Ballard should not be the case.

“CFA has been traditionally opposed to raising student fees, because we believe that higher education needs to be available to everyone,” Ballard said.

The rally on Nov. 15 is open to students and faculty and buses are provided for the trip to Long Beach. According to the rally flyer, the CFA will be there to “demand that the board of trustees drop executive perks and give the money back to CSU, roll back student fees and bargain fair contracts.”

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