Faculty to picket at CSUN on Feb. 7

Jocelyn Swartz

CSUN faculty will be picketing on campus Feb. 7 to raise awareness of the deadlocked contract negotiations with the California State University administration.

The California Faculty Association, the union representing CSUN professors, has been in negotiations with the CSU over a new collective bargaining agreement, but has not been successful in reaching an agreement concerning faculty salaries for almost two years.

“We would like salaries guaranteed just like everyone else. We want to know what our finances are,” said James David Ballard, a sociology professor the CFA’s CSUN chapter president.

The negotiation process between faculty and the administration is building to a critical stage. The teachers are picketing in an attempt to raise awareness of the current plight of faculty. They also want people to know if the deadlock comes to an end, teachers will avoid the final stage of negotiations: a strike.

“We let the public know that there are serious problems that they are not addressing, while protecting who we care about: students,” Ballard said.

Students are concerned about the possible effects of not resolving this quickly.

“It would be detrimental to the students’ education if they don’t take care of this right away,” said Connor Borum, a 23-year-old anthropology major.

The CSU administration has also tried to keep the students informed about the negotiation process.

“We tried to reach out to them about this in September,” said Paul Browning, CSU administration media relations specialist. “We placed ads in newspapers that were designed for them. We have reached out to the students.

“We want to give the students a heads-up about what is going on. When it comes to student fees, they get more interested,” Browning added.

The picketing is an endeavor to get this situation resolved in a quick manner without disrupting the semester and causing potential graduates to attend another semester.

“The audience is everyone, students and faculty on campus. The picketing is a part of the negotiation process, but also the media puts pressure on the CSU,” Browning said.

Some students recognize the effect that a strike and the continuing negotiations could have on their own future.

“It could be really bad if this didn’t get solved. We could be stuck in limbo, being forced to seek an education somewhere else,” Borum said.

Ballard said the fee increases are already having an impact on several campuses. An example is the disenrollment of students due to their inability to pay their tuition by the deadline, leaving them no way to seek further education.

“If the priorities were students and faculty, we would all be successful,” Ballard said.

Another concern of the faculty is overcrowded classrooms and the effect this is having on students’ educations.

“Work load to us causes our inability to counsel and give guidance for (students),” Ballard said.

The CFA Web site shows the union’s position.

The faculty working conditions are the students’ learning conditions, the Web site said, and it may be necessary to explain to the students why such actions as picketing or a strike are necessary.

Students interact more with teachers on a daily basis than with the administration, and it is only natural that they tend to take the side of the faculty. Informed students are sympathetic to the faculty’s plight.

“I care for them, not for myself,” Borum said.

The entire story will unfold over the next several weeks, with the picketing by the faculty, further bargaining between the administration and the faculty union, and perhaps a resolution prior to the faculty opting to strike.