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Amid a year of budget cuts, CSU administrators still reap the benefits

Despite suffering from budget cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Long Beach State is not planning to increase nor decrease faculty of staff pay in the near future, according to university administrators.

After receiving a $22 million budget cut last year, CSULB has been cutting back the budget by keeping most buildings closed on campus to save money on energy costs. The university, along with the CSU, also has stopped hiring and sponsored travel using state funds.

Jeff Cook, associate vice president of strategic communications, maintained that there will not be any salary-related changes for university employees.

“No general pay increases are anticipated in the current or future fiscal year for our employees,” Cook said. “Similarly, there have been no across-the-board reductions in compensations.”

Former California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White had previously stated that the system’s 23 campuses would face a minimum three-year financial and operational challenge, with universities potentially facing furloughs and layoffs during the 2021-22 fiscal year.

“While, regrettably, there have been and may continue to be some layoffs of valued employees across the system, we believe it is possible to minimize the number of layoffs without seeking to negotiate a furlough program with our labor unions this fiscal year,” Cook said in July.

Budgetary issues were brought up after Joseph I. Castro was named the new chancellor following White’s retirement announcement in October 2019. Castro is set to make a base salary of $625,000, nearly $148,000 more than White’s pay in 2019. His housing and car allowance is expected to be the same as White’s.

The California Faculty Association has raised concerns regarding Castro’s salary increase and released a statement that called on Castro to “lead a unionized workplace and work with, rather than against, your employees.”

“Funding holes should be filled from the CSU’s $1.5 billion reserves, not from tuition increases, course reductions, increases to class sizes, furloughs or layoffs/job losses that kick workers and their families off their healthcare insurance during a public health emergency,” the statement said.

CSU Public Affairs Manager Hazel Kelly attributed the recent increase in salary to a delay in comparison to different institutions.

“A market survey conducted prior to Chancellor Castro’s appointment indicated that his predecessor’s compensation lagged behind the average of peer institutions by more than 20%,” Kelly said. “Providing an appropriate level of compensation, whether it’s to the chancellor or faculty, staff or other administrators, allows the CSU to recruit and retain the best possible employees for the university.”

Full-time university professors, on average, earned $141,000 including benefits in 2019, an increase of $5,000 from 2018. However, the position has never received a pay raise of more than $8,000 since 2014.

The average pay increase per department at CSULB ranged from $1,000 to $5,000 in total during the 2019 fiscal year. Salary information for the 2020 fiscal year is not yet available.

Geography professor Gary Hytrek, who is the Long Beach CFA chapter president representative, said he hopes that the association can work with Castro and the CSU around the workload and salary issues.

When White was first promoted into the position in 2012, the former chancellor had asked to reduce his pay by 10%, from $421,000 to $380,000, as the country had been in the midst of an economic downturn, Hytrek said. When Castro became the new chancellor, Hytrek said he heard nothing about a pay reduction.

“This chancellor comes in, and not only does he not even recognize or entertain the question of whether or not he should voluntarily take a pay reduction, he gets a pay increase of $150,000 more,” Hytrek said.

Faculty members have been “working extremely well under incredibly adverse and difficult conditions,” Hytrek said. He criticized the chancellor for not recognizing the hardships that faculty members are experiencing as a result of the pandemic.

“I hope that this does not become a normal operating system for him,” he said.

In an effort to receive additional support for spring 2021, the CFA had reached out to the chancellor for contract negotiations prior to the start of the semester. However, according to Hytrek, the CSU did not get back to the association until after the spring semester began.

Outside of a few additional sick days during the semester, there is no additional support for faculty members, Hytrek said, which he said is because “the money is just not there yet.”

“Faculty currently gets eight sick hours a month,” he said. “The chancellor’s offer was an additional 128 hours for the entire 2021 calendar year, but this was half what was provided to other CSU employees, plus a faculty member would have to get permission to use the time. The CFA wants a program that actually reduces the work and stress levels of faculty due to COVID.”

The CSU has not released any official statement regarding whether or not Castro will take a pay cut.

“I think it demonstrates own deafness on his part, and I hope that it does not reflect his inability to recognize the challenges and the sacrifices that the students and the faculty are making, especially over this last year,” Hytrek said.

This story was updated on March 1 at 3:08 p.m. to more accurately reflect the full-time professor salary in 2019 and again on March 2 at 10:35 a.m. to clarify that Jeff Cook discussed layoffs in July.

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