Workers union and CSU system reach agreement


Bargaining teams for the California State University system and its non-faculty workers union reached a tentative agreement for a three-year contract at San Diego State University last Wednesday after years of stagnant salaries that have not kept up with the rate of inflation.

Still to be voted on by paying CSU Employees Union members, the contract, if approved, would adjust workers’ salaries for inflation by about 11 percent, and increase the salary ranges of more than 2,000 workers by 5 percent, over the next three years.

“It’s a good agreement for our members because prospectively it is the best we have seen since the early ’90s,” said CSU Employees Union Vice President of Representation Dennis Dillon. “Surveys show that members are mostly concerned about keeping up with inflation after years of falling behind in their buying power, making it harder to get by.”

The promised increases in workers’ salaries for 2007 and 2008 are dependent on the CSU being able to acquire the necessary funds from the state during those years, and both parties have agreed to return to the bargaining table in the event that this does not happen.

Anthony Simbol, policy adviser on higher education for the Legislative Analyst’s Office, said current projections show the state with a $5 million budget shortfall during the 2007-08 fiscal year, and there is no set law that stipulates that the CSU will receive more funds.

“We feel fairly good about it because it is a little more than the compact,” Dillon said. “Is there a budget shortfall? Yes, but it’s not as bad as it was last year. Any raise outside of a year is dependent on contingencies. If the target is not met, we will reopen negotiations.”

CSU Assistant Vice Chancellor Sam Strafaci said, “We’re optimistic that the state legislature and the governor will give us the necessary funding we need.”

James Ballard, president of the CSUN chapter of the California Faculty Association, said that he could understand why the CSU Employee’s Union, acting in the best interest of its underpaid workers, would come to an agreement that is largely based on contingencies.

As for the CFA, “we don’t agree to these contingencies because the CSU has the money, but they would rather give these funds away to their executives as perks,” Ballard said.

Reached shortly after the CSU voted to change the terms under which executives can receive million-dollar salaries, the agreement also included postponement on increasing workers’ pay closer to what the public and private sector would offer for the same jobs until the state budget is passed in 2007. The new contract would increase pay for this purpose by about 3 percent over the next three years.

“We have yet to address market equity concerns in terms of bargaining, but we plan to tackle the issue again during ’07-’08,” Strafaci said. “We keep track of staff transition.”

Both bargaining teams also agreed to allow for an increase in parking fees for workers if the university faculty union agrees to a fee hike for professors, but under different terms.

Strafaci said he met with the CFA bargaining team Monday during mediation, but they still could not agree on anything in terms of the parking fee issue.

The CSU Board of Trustees will vote to approve the tentative agreement by the end of the month, Strafaci said. The CSU Employee’s Union should have all ballots counted by early next year, Dillon said.