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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

Fraught Negotiations Over the CSU Faculty Labor Contract Inches a Step Closer to a Strike

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A man climbing the steps of the negotiation process. (Signal Graphic/Brian Miske)

Negotiations between the California Faculty Association (CFA) and CSU management regarding the 2023-24 re-opener contract have been rocky from the start, and both parties have failed to reach an agreement through both open meetings and private mediation.
With both parties at an impasse, negotiations have moved towards fact-finding, which employs a disinterested third party to investigate the validity of both parties’ cases.
If the negotiations following the fact-finding report fall through, the CFA voting to strike is on the table, which is sending a wave of anxiety over all 23 CSU campuses.
The CFA didn’t have issues with the entirety of the CSU management’s proposed contract just certain articles of it. The following articles include:

  • Article 20: Workload
  • Article 23: Leave of Absence with Pay
  • Article 31: Salary
  • Article 37: Health and Safety

The bargaining process began June 9th and lasted until August 7th. These meetings were non-confidential and largely revolved around the question of faculty salary.
The faculty’s initial salary proposal was a raise of 12% to compensate for buying power lost due to inflation.
They also demanded a salary floor increase of $10,000 for Lecturer A employees and $5,000 for Lecturer B, which are the two lowest-paid faculty positions.
Dr. Dave Colnic, a Politics & Public Administration professor and CFA Chapter President for CSU Stanislaus, outlined the desperate state of these lecturers’ conditions.
“Lecturer A and B are very poorly paid. In many places in the state, a full-time Lecturer A would make less than a starting public high school teacher,” he said.
The CSU management’s counter-offer was a 3-year contract that included 5% raise for all faculty members per year with no special provisions for its most poorly paid faculty members.
The CFA also proposed items such as extending paid parental leave from 6 weeks to 16 weeks, construction of lactation rooms for students and faculty who need to breastfeed their children, and the retrofitting of some bathrooms to be gender-neutral.
The CSU declined the extension of parental leave in their counter-offer, and while they expressed support for lactation rooms and gender-neutral bathrooms, they were unwilling to amend anything to the contract. 
With both parties unsatisfied, an impasse was declared on August 14th, which led to confidential mediation meetings.
Mediated negotiation meetings between the two sides would occur following the approval of the impasse declaration.
In these mediated meetings both sides remained firm as both sides were still too far apart. 
The results of the last mediation meeting on Sep 11th led to the parties entering step four, known as fact-finding.
Dr. Colnic discussed how after fact-finding, the CSU management and the union will meet behind closed doors for a ten-day media blackout period.
“In our past labor discussions, this is oftentimes when we make some real progress,” Dr. Colnic said, “One side or the other doesn’t want it to go public that they’ve been distorting the truth all this time. But it doesn’t always work.”
If an agreement is not reached during this ten-day period, then the fact-finding report will be made public. The CSU management can then impose their last best offer.
If faculty is unsatisfied with the imposed contract, the union can then vote to go on strike.
Dr. Colnic is hopeful that an agreement can be made and a strike will not be necessary but says the CFA is making preparations in case the call to strike is made and explains what that entails beyond logistical preparations.
“We communicate with students. I think students have a right to know what’s going on,” Dr. Colnic said, “So part of what it is, is we make sure folks tell their students, ‘This is where we stand.'”
Students such as Claire Gee (Senior, English) are also making it clear where they stand. Gee believes that faculty have a right to fight for their demands and support them.
“Teachers are the ones who create the citizens of the world,” she said, “These people went to school and endured the demands, both academic and emotional. Teachers are one of the biggest influences.”
Kavena Hambira, an adjunct faculty member at Stan State, reminds us of the consequences of a strike. He comes from UC Berkeley where they faced many class cancelations and disruptions due to the UC student employee strike.
“It was student workers that were on strike, But equally had, you know, a devastating impact,” he said.
The strike Hambira referenced is known as the largest strike involving higher education. 
He said he doesn’t want students to suffer because of all this, but that we need to look at the bigger picture.
“If your professors and your faculty don’t have the resources that they need, they can’t support students either. So you have to look at sort of those both sides of the coin,” Hambira said.
For more information about what’s going on click the links below:

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Fraught Negotiations Over the CSU Faculty Labor Contract Inches a Step Closer to a Strike