In the event of the looming California Faculty Association strike, Cal State Long Beach says the campus will operate as usual; the CFA says the campus will be completely vacant; students say they still don’t know what to expect; and many are still widely unaware of the strike’s existence or its potential impact upon them.
Although the campus will remain open and administrative services will be available, it is unclear if students will be able to access the campus.
The CFA expects traffic to back up as the picket line grows in number at campus entrances. Unions that normally operate within the campus, including Long Beach Transit buses, will not cross the picket line, said Douglas Domingo-Foraste, CFA Long Beach chapter president.
“If they try to come on campus, it will be difficult,” he said.
He and the CFA expect the potential strike to mirror the 2011 one-day strikes that took place at Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State East Bay. Each campus protested tuition hikes and low faculty salaries.
“It was a ghost town,” Domingo-Foraste said. “No classes were held that day, no one was on campus.”
Students may come to class, but their classes may be cancelled; students may attempt to email professors, but it is illegal for them to respond. Participating in any CSU activity while on strike is considered a “partial strike” and is not allowed.
According to a Q&A released by the CSU, professors are also not permitted to use class time to discuss strike-related matter unless it directly pertains to the course material.
“Even if the discussion is relevant to the course content, faculty should not use this opportunity to insert their own opinions or to try to persuade students to support or oppose the strike,” according to the CSU statement.
“We’re going to ask students to support their faculty; we’re going to ask them not to come to class,” Domingo-Foraste said.
President Jane Close Conoley also addressed the potential strike in an email last week.[sidebar title=”Labor dispute: Quick facts” align=”right” background=”on” border=”all” shadow=”on”]
What the California Faculty Association wants:
A 5 percent general salary increase for all of the CFA’s roughly 23,000 members and an additional 2.65 percent Service Salary Increase for eligible faculty.
What the California State University is offering
A 2 percent general salary increase that is consistent with the increase given to executives, administrators and other unions on campus.
Timeline of CFA-CSU Negotiations
Oct. 8, 2015
The two parties met with a mediator in Sacramento to make one last attempt at closing the gap between the CFA’s 5 percent salary increase request and the standing CSU offer of a 2 percent increase.
Oct. 19-28, 2015
CFA members voted to approve concerted action for the CFA if their demand for a 5 percent salary increase was not met.
Nov. 17, 2015
CFA protested for a 5 percent salary increase in front of the CSU office of the Chancellor.
Jan. 7, 2016
Gov. Jerry Brown proposes an additional $151.8 million in funding for the CSU system in his 2016-17 budget.
Jan. 19, 2016
The CFA announce that a strike would also include the Los Angeles County AFL-CIO (300 different unions) and other California unions.
April 13-19, 2016
The CFA plans to strike for five days across all CSU campuses if demand for 5 percent salary increase is not met by the CSU.
“The strike should not interfere with students being able to complete their courses and graduate on time,” Conoley said. “Faculty who strike will generally arrange for assigned reading or other work if their classes are canceled.”
According to the CFA, the professors’ right to discuss relevant issues is protected under HEERA, the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations statute.
“If there’s a strike, people need to know why there will be a strike.” Marie C. Fernandez, a senior kinesiology major, said.
Fernandez, like many students, has more questions than answers.
“If the [university] doesn’t want to give them raises, then why are we paying so much money to the [university]?” Gustavo Ortega, a junior journalism major, said. “How is the [university] benefitting themselves, without benefitting us?”
Students said they want more information, not just an email to skim over. Some said they would like to know what they can do as students.
Although an official plan for students is not fully developed yet—in hopes that an agreement will be reached before the April 13 strike date—students should report to their professors regarding the syllabus schedule.
The CFA strike would take place April 13-15 and 18-19.
Some professors, such as Maria Carreira and Barry Steiner, view the syllabus as a student-professor contract and struggle with how to assess missed class time.
“I’ve pledged to [the syllabus],” Steiner said. “It’s my number one commitment to them.”
Although he is concerned for his students and may assign work ahead of time, he said that he would not cross the picket line.
“While I support the strike, in respect to what the university or the system do, I have a responsibility to [my students].” Carreira said.
Ultimately, professors can choose whether or not to pre-assign work for the five missed days during the strike. Students can choose whether or not to picket alongside their professors.
The CFA chapter at CSULB is hosting an open forum on the strike Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Academic Services, room 124B.