California State University faculty will strike for five days at CSU campuses across the system in April if collective bargaining continues to fail, and students are welcome to join, California Faculty Association leaders announced Monday morning.
“It is time for faculty and students to stand together and say, ‘No longer,’” Kevin Wehr, CFA vice president, said.
The CFA’s 23,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches will strike Apr. 13-15 and Apr. 18-19 along with other labor groups such as the Los Angeles County AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union.
The SEIU represents over 700,000 workers in California, and the AFL-CIO represents over 300 different unions in Los Angeles County.
In addition to these labor groups, the CFA said they have secured strike authorizations from unions in almost every city with a CSU campus.
“If a strike occurs, campuses intend to remain open,” the CSU said in a statement. “Many classes will be offered, and students should check with their instructors regarding the status of their classes. The strike should not interfere with students being able to complete their semester and quarter courses and graduate on time.”
The CFA said previously that a strike would only last for one day and that strikes for each CSU campus would be held on different days. The faculty union’s Board of Directors authorized the longer, system-wide five-day strike Friday evening.
A strike is still uncertain, as both the CSU management and the CFA wait for the fact-finding committee to publish the report in mid- to late-March. The CFA has said the report will likely look favorably on the faculty’s case.
“I’m really hopeful we can avert the strike,” CFA President Jennifer Eagan said.
Chancellor Timothy P. White and the Board of Trustees have said they are willing to give faculty a 2 percent salary increase, but the CFA has said the 5 percent raise is the least they will accept, citing the rising cost of living and inflation.
“The majority of faculty members can’t afford to live where they teach,” Antonio Gallo, CFA chair of contract development, said. “We have faculty members who have to go to food banks.”
Eagan said professors must set a good example for students and that they will spend time talking in the classroom about why faculty are going on strike.
“I think a lot of our students will want to picket along with us,” Eagan said.
Kaitlyn Gorbet, a Cal State Long Beach art history transfer student, said that she would stand with her professors in the strike and understood the significance of using class time to articulate why the strike would occur.
“It sucks that teachers are kind of forced to do it in a way, but I think that it’s effective,” Gorbet said. “If they’re taking up our time, someone higher up is going to notice. Hopefully it’s effective, because I want to be a teacher too one day, and teachers deserve more because what they’re doing is really important.”
When the fact-finding report is published, the CFA said it will make a copy available to the public. If wage negotiations do not resume, the strike will be automatic.
Taryn Sauer contributed to this story