Friday, September 30, 2011

More on Faculty Work Action

Misplaced spending priorities on the part of Cal State University leaders has spurred the union representing faculty members to plan work actions, according to a local union leader.

The faculty union plans to conduct "informational picketing" at its 23 campuses and stage a one-day strike at two schools.

The union announcement was made this week in response to CSU administrators' rejection of a union proposal to partially restore canceled faculty pay raises in the 2009-2010 school year.

The retroactive raises - which would be paid from the current budget - are unaffordable amid state funding cuts, said CSU spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp. The raises would cost $20 million, he said.

"Our position is that there's no money for the raises," Uhlenkamp said.

The California Faculty Association represents 23,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches. Their membership includes faculty at Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State San Bernardino and 21 other Cal State University campuses.

The planned picketing is coupled with a demand for partially restoring scheduled raises that were withheld. But faculty members are also unhappy with negotiations over a new contract, said Gwendolyn Urey, president of the union's Cal Poly Pomona chapter.

"I think if you look at the other things that they're spending money on, it's hard to believe (they can't afford raises)," said Urey, a professor of urban and regional planning. "They're

spending $7 million for consultants to be on their side of the bargaining right now."

The union said it plans to conduct "informational picketing" on Nov. 8 or 9 at all campuses. The picketing will not be coupled with a walkout.

"Concerted actions," which are expected to include a strike, are set for Nov. 17 at Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State East Bay. A one-day systemwide strike could follow if approved by members.

The union's prior contract with CSU took effect on July 1, 2007, and expired June 30, 2010. Faculty members are still working under the contract because a new agreement hasn't been reached.

The contract called for annual raises, but the raises were contingent on projected state funding levels being met, Uhlenkamp said.

Because funding levels were lower than projected, CSU withheld two rounds of faculty raises. Faculty members also agreed to furloughs in the 2009-2010 school year that amounted to a pay cut of nearly 10 percent, Uhlenkamp said.

Faculty members at Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State San Bernardino are scheduled to picket Nov. 9. Some local faculty members are also expected to join picket lines Nov. 17 at Cal State Dominguez Hills, Urey said.

"The actual shape of the event is not known yet," Urey said. "It could be a picket line. It could be much bigger."

Urey said the Cal Poly Pomona chapter of the union is encouraging members to vote in support of a systemwide one-day strike, which would come after the Nov. 17 actions.

The Cal State University system finances its budget through state contributions, and through tuition and fees from students, Uhlenkamp said.

The state's contribution to CSU has fallen from $2.97 billion in 2007-2008 - its highest ever - to the current school year's $2.14 billion, which could be lowered to $2.04 billion if state revenues come up short, Uhlenkamp said.

Since 2007 annual student tuition has more than doubled, going from $2,700 to $5,472. But tuition increases haven't made up for losses in state funding, Uhlenkamp said.

Urey said, "I think there's a budget issue, but there's also a priorities issue."

She said CSU has been spending money developing an online university envisioned as a "24th campus." She said she believes the online program is "mostly about displacing faculty."

Source: SB Sun

1 comment:

Rich said...

I encourage all activists to request November 17th as vacation leave, and use that day to support the faculty at either CSUDH or East Bay.

Hope to see you all there!

-Rich