Members of the 26,000-strong California Faculty Association (CFA) are threatening to carry out their first system-wide, simultaneous strike in the event contract talks with the California State University administration (CSU) reach a stalemate.
Faculty and students from the 23 campuses of the California State University (CSU) system will demonstrate today over a contract fight that they say is critical to the future of higher education in the Golden State. The actions will be highlighted by a march through downtown Long Beach, ending at the state chancellor’s office, where the CSU Board of Trustees is to meet.
The long-running conflict intensified last week, as the California Faculty Association (CFA) announced that 94 percent of its members who voted agreed to authorize a strike. Faculty have been frustrated by what they say is under-investment in teaching: stagnant wages and the CSU’s move towards cheaper part-time teachers rather than tenure-line faculty, while at the same time hiring and giving raises to non-academic supervisors and top management. Student fees increased multiple times over that period. The result, say CFA members, is that students face a tougher path to graduation,
On Tuesday a coalition of faculty, legislators, staff and students (pictured above) marched to Governor Jerry Brown’s office in support of greatly increased funding for the California State University system. Governor Brown’s budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year includes $142.2 million for the beleaguered CSU system, a five percent increase in its budget. Kevin Wehr, a sociology professor at CSU Sacramento and one of the marchers, said that “the governor’s proposal is welcome but it’s not nearly enough. [The cuts to the CSU budget] were massive, deep and really hurt the ability to deliver a quality public education.”
During the recession, many state programs were hit hard by budget cuts. However, the economic downturn took a particularly devastating toll on the state university system. More than a billion dollars was slashed from its budget as California dealt with the recession. Only a small fraction has since been restored.
The CSU system faces numerous problems.