CFA calls for System-Wide CSU Strike on January 22, 2024

Friday, December 22, 2023

One month from now, either a decent contract === or on strike!!!

The leadership of the California Faculty Association has called on the entire faculty at all campuses of the California State University system to go on strike during the first week of classes in the Spring semester, 2024. The CFA wants to obtain for both tenured and adjunct faculty a salary commensurate with the skills and knowledge we bring to the training of the future work force. The five percent pay raise offered by the Chancellor’s Office is a pathetic joke, given the extraordinary inflation that has undermined the purchase power of our income in the past eighteen months. The fact that inflation seems recently to have leveled off does not mean that faculty have somehow magically found themselves on an even economic keel again. We are still reeling from the enormous increases in everything from rent to food to car insurance. And many of us rent. How could we possibly afford to buy a house in Southern California, where almost half of the 450,000 students enrolled in the CSU system study.

Quite bluntly, what the CSU is offering amounts to a pay cut. There’s no other way to put it. In point of fact, the California Faculty Association is not asking for a pay raise. Instead, we want to put a stop to the constant erosion of our salaries; and if CO needs a reminder of why we do not trust them, let us consider how CSU faculty were promised a four percent raise after the last contract was voted on and approved by the CFA (though I myself voted “no,” since I suspected a double-cross was in the works). What happened to that four percent? Funny you should ask. It was reduced to three percent because the legislature and the governor thought that trimming one percent from the union approved agreement would send the CFA a signal of how little power they have. Well, we have no desire to be sucker-punched again and we intend to show you how much power we do have.

CSU faculty are of course not the only workers who have felt the impingements of inflation. Other workers have flexed their muscle, and the outcome has been a mitigation of the inroads that inflation has made on their income. As a quick review of other employers who have recognized the extent that inflation has hampered the ability of workers to make ends meet, here are some other results:

July, 2023
“United Airlines pilots will get immediate wage-rate increases of 13.8% to 18.7%, depending on the type of plane they fly, followed by four smaller annual raises”

Full-time United Parcel Service (UPS) drivers got at least a ten percent pay raise this year in their new five year contract.

Here is the pay raise schedule that was agreed upon by the United Teachers Los Angeles:
3% retroactive to July 1, 2022
4% retroactive to Jan. 1
3% effective July 1, 2023
4% effective Jan. 1, 2024
3% effective July 1, 2024
4% effective Jan. 1, 2025

Why should CSU professors accept only a five percent raise in 2023-2024 when a high school teacher is getting seven percent between July 1, 2023 and January 1, 2024? That raise is in addition to a retroactive raise meant to compensate teachers for the extraordinary amount of inflation in 2022-2023.

Once again, let me reiterate the actual jump in the cost of living.

“Inflation may be cooling — but drivers can’t seem to catch. break” by Elisabeth Buchwald, 8:08 a.m. August 12, 2023

“It will cost 19.5 percent more to repair your car now than it did a year ago, according to July’s Consumer Price Index report, released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. …. (C)ar insurance (is) up 17.8 percent from a year ago.”

The CO has claimed that it has “deep respect” for the work that faculty do, but that “rapidly escalating costs of operation” preclude any pay raise beyond five percent. Their recalcitrance has a long history. In my own case, even after a half-dozen years of work following my promotion to full professor, my actual income has only minimally budged from the salary I was offered when I was appointed an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach in 2006. The effects of inflation over the past 18 years have been that devastating.

CSU Faculty have given the Chancellor’s Office a more than fair warning. This past semester included a one-day strike at four different campuses. Apparently, the CO believes that one day is the most that we are willing to walk on a picket line. We’ll see how things stand once the second week of classes start in late January and still no students are learning what they paid tuition for.

In the meantime, the money that was promised faculty as a very small raise starting in July, 2023 is five months overdue. Brotman Hall claims that it takes considerable time for each person’s paycheck to be calculated, but my guess is that by stalling the payment of this money, the CO has used the funds to invest in short-timer, high interest loans, thereby swelling its coffers through the use of money we have already earned.

In case you somehow think that the CO’s accountants don’t know how the capitalist game is played, think again. When students pay their fees in advance of the semester, that money doesn’t just sit around twiddling its manicured thumbs. That liquidity is used to make more cash ASAP. It’s the education business, and the business of education pays its administrators very well. Those who do the educating are asked to settle for “deep respect.”

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