CSU faculty receives salary increase after an agreement was reached

Shira Moskowitz

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The California State University and California Faculty Association (CFA) have reached a salary agreement after months of negotiations.

As part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s new state budget proposal, $38 million of the $125.1 million in funding put into the CSU was allocated toward faculty and staff compensation, according to Mike Uhlenkamp, spokesman for CSU.

“We have agreed to provide a 1.34 percent compensation pool for members of the CFA,” he said.

The compensation — a cost of about $1,467,300 — will be evenly distributed amongst “full time equivalent faculty” and will be paid no later than Dec. 1, 2013, according to a press release issued by the CSU.

CSUN urban studies and planning professor Henrik P. Minassians said faculty salary increases are long overdue.

“Considering that the CSU faculty have not received any raises for a number of years, we faculty believe that this is timely and we should get some form of cost of living adjustment,” he said.

CFA Northridge chapter President Nate Thomas said that the 1.34 percent salary increase is roughly about an extra $1,000 per full-time faculty member per year, which is about an extra $80 a month.

Thomas believes the salary increases are a step in the right direction for CSU faculty members.

“It’s a good start in the right direction for compensating the faculty who work so hard at this university to educate our students and to inspire them and send them on their way to productive careers,” Thomas said.

Thomas, a CSUN CTVA professor, also said part-time faculty will receive prorated salary increases where they will get a specific dollar amount salary increase depending on how many classes they teach.

He added that the new salary deal is only the first step and not enough to support struggling faculty members.

“We are appreciative of the raise but it’s very modest, I really see it as a down payment,” Thomas said.

When the CSU faculty’s contract expires in June 2014, Thomas said the CFA will make sure further bargaining will take place.

“We are not talking about faculty that are just greedy and want more money. We have faculty that are barely making it,” he said. “These faculty members that our students look up to and see as role models are really having a hard time with the low pay rate, so we’re suffering.”

While the new state budget has followed through with CFA salary increases, it also opened the door for negotiating health care benefits for CSU employees. Until now, the majority of CSU faculty members have not had to pay for their healthcare benefits, Uhlenkamp said.

With the increase of health care premium costs over the past year, the CSU is proposing to “split some of the costs with its employees,” said Uhlenkamp.

Because the CFA has strongly voiced their opposition to pay for more healthcare benefits, negotiations for raising the cost of health care will be discussed at a later time, Uhlenkamp said.

As of now, faculty will not be asked to pay more, Thomas said.

“We haven’t had raises in five years, and now that we got a little modest raise that we’re thankful for, we clearly are not in the position to talk about anymore contribution to the health care,” Thomas said. “If we contribute more to the health care, that means less take home to the faculty that are already struggling.”

Karen Zuleta, a CSUN freshman majoring in sociology, believes professors at CSUN deserve the pay raises.

“Not only do professors deserve a pay raise, but it will motivate them to perform better in the classroom too,” Zuleta said.

CFA Communications Director Alice Sunshine is hopeful that the new plan is the end of budget cuts.

“It’s not enough money to support the kind of education we think the students need and its not enough to help faculty so they can support their families while they teach students, but we’re not looking at budget cuts anymore, we’re looking at how things can be improved, so that’s a step in the right direction” Sunshine said.

Although CSU faculty have been told they would get pay raises in the past, no salary increases were ever made, up until now, Sunshine said.

There were negotiated pay raises in the previous contact that were not implemented, so faculty pay has been stagnant through all these budget cuts, and a lot of faculty lecturers lost their jobs,” Sunshine said.