Cost to students of CFA negotiation failure

James David Ballard

As students arrive back on campus they may find the faculty and administration in a public dispute and rather intense struggle over three issues: 1) increased fees for students (faculty oppose these), 2) excessive administrative pay and perks (faculty ask for some sense of propriety on their part) and 3) a new faculty contract. We are still working but have tried to get the California State University system to agree to new terms for over 21 months. So why should students care about any of these?

As to the first issue, your tuition is set to increase again (and again and again). The CSU seems to be convinced that students have money to spare and that such yearly tuition hikes will not deter students from graduation, not impede their access to education, and not hurt the institution as a whole. They seem to feel you are strictly a revenue source and thus worthy of their exploitation. Yet again, think bookstore prices and you get the point. Faculty, in the form of the California Faculty Association, have consistently opposed such increases because we know it affects who is in our classes, who has a chance at a better life, and who graduates. A fact of life seems to escape CSU administrators – increased fees make it harder and harder for many lower income and minority students to attend the CSU. Just look at the facts ; the campuses most affected are those with the lowest aggregate economic status and highest minority student populations. Dominguez Hills and East Bay are two prime examples.

Just last week the CSU added more fuel to the fire by increasing pay for top administrators (again). This is yet another example of the executive perks scandals that have erupted in the last eight months and have created serious questions in the minds of many that the CSU has no sense of right and wrong when it comes to lining their pockets on the backs of students and faculty. More pay for what? Less classes, less chances to graduate and less willingness to serve the needs of the community. They should be ashamed of themselves and work harder to make our CSU better, not paying themselves more and more and more.

The final straw is the impending imposition of a contract on your CSUN faculty. The CSU and faculty have been negotiating a new contract for 21 months. These negotiations have passed into legal limbo and await the outcome (bleak looking, I might add) of state mandated processes before the inevitable imposition of a weak contract on Northridge faculty and a responsive strike by the faculty members who have bargained in good faith. Yes STRIKE. The CSU is set to impose working conditions on faculty – a process that is the height of disrespect to use as unionized employees – the faculty of this CSU and all of the CSU campuses will be upset if this happens. Once that happens the faculty are legally free to strike and such plans are underway. If the CSU continues to do what they will, the faculty will have to stand up for themselves. That means a strike.

So what, you say? Well first, faculty members do not wish to strike. They will if they have too, but that is not their wish. We have tried to negotiate with the CSU but to date they have been less than truthful in their working at those negotiations. They lie to faculty, they lie to politicians and they even lie to themselves – the tangled web of deceit and misperceptions they weave fool their own people. After 21 months of these lies, they may not even know what to believe.

What can you do? Join us on February 7 in front of the Sierra Center from 12 to 1 p.m. Let your voice be heard on these issues – say enough already of the tuition increases, stop the executive pay abuses and negotiate a fair contract with the faculty of California State University, Northridge. We are fighting for you because we believe our working conditions are your learning conditions. If you agree, if you are angry at any one of these serious issues, and if you want to get involved – join us.