The California Faculty Association has begun a campaign to authorize a strike if their requests to the CSU system for a 5 percent increase in employee compensation are not met.
Pending results from a statistical fact checking process will determine the bargaining path of the labor negotiation process between the two, but CFA is not waiting around to create a plan of action for their worst-case scenario.
Over the course of the last few months, the relationship between California Faculty Association representatives and the California State University system Board of Trustees has been put under strain regarding salary negotiations.
A vote to be held from October 19-28 could give the CFA clearance to strike in spring of 2016 if the majority of members at large deem the action vital to the success of their raise request.
The crux of the problem came when the original CFA request for a 5 percent increase in general faculty salary was countered by a 2 percent raise offer from CSU.
CSU implemented a 3 percent faculty compensation pool increase at the start of the 2014 school year, which put tens of millions of dollars toward salaries. The proffered 2 percent increase would place an additional $65.5 million in the employee compensation pool to be distributed amongst all CSU staff, as per CSU Director of Public Affairs Toni Molle.
“A balanced approach to compensation is vital. We agree that faculty should be properly compensated for their service and contribution to our students,” she said in an online press release. “We are doing what we can, within our fiscal means, to address compensation concerns.”
Statewide CFA President Jennifer Eagan countered the CSU claims in a meeting at CSULB last week, saying that CSU simply has “other spending priorities” being given attention over salary.
Eagan said in an update brief last week that faculty salaries in the 2014 school year were so low that staff homes were being foreclosed upon, medical bills were going unpaid and a basic middle-class lifestyle was not maintainable.
Neither party has shown a willingness to move from their percentages, which has led to a long, bumpy road down the labor negotiation process.
Article 31 of the CSU Labor Contract includes provisions for salary increase negotiations, but does specify that if “the parties cannot reach an agreement on the amount of the salary increases for these years, Article 9 shall be suspended or, as an alternative, the parties may jointly agree to submit the issue to a mediation/arbitration process.”
As of now, the CFA has declared an impasse in bargaining and pushed forward to a formal, third party mediation process slated to end on the eighth of the month.
A mediator unaffiliated with either CFA or CSU has been hearing each side’s case and is attempting to bring about an agreement that satisfies both parties. There has not yet been success from any of the previous meetings, and CFA Vice President Cecil Canton does not foresee a positive outcome.
“I have never seen anything settled in mediation,” Canton said. “The mediator has never seen anything settled in mediation. Nothing has ever been settled in mediation.”
In the case that final mediation does fail, both parties would move on to the fact-checking stage of the bargaining process, where another independent party will confirm the statistical and factual details being used by the parties to support their presentations for salary.
CFA wants the 5 percent increase to go into effect for the remainder of the current contract, which is set to expire after the 2016-2017 school year. The contract began in the 2014-2015 school year and underwent emergency negotiations in the first year.
More information on the progress of negotiations will come Thursday as the two parties meet for the final mediation session, and expectedly move towards the CFA vote for strike.