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California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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CFA Takes a Stand with Unprecedented Strike Against CSU Management

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CSUEB CFA members during strike on January 22nd (Stephanie Berumen/The Pioneer)

Momentum and uncertainty hung in the air of CSU classrooms, just during the first week of the Spring semester. The CFA had announced that a week-long strike would be effective starting the 22nd of January. A rough 29,000 members flood their respective campuses across California, all striking for extended maternity leave, salary increase, managed course caps, and equality. The New York Times reported this as the biggest walk-out in U.S. education history. 

The CFA, California Faculty Association, comprises 29,000 lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches who teach and provide to the CSU, which houses 240,000 students. The CFA stands for quality education, fair wages, and policies ensuring higher education access.

The reason why they’re striking is for a multitude of reasons. For starters, pay rate. The CSU indeed offered a 5% pay raise to the original lecturer’s salary, however, this would not accommodate current living expenses such as housing, food, transport, and family. The CFA also found the current maternal leave to not be sufficient for those who need it. Not only this, but the quality of education is something that needs to be fixed to give students on campus the best education possible, which is not reflected, even with tuition prices hiking up over the next 5-6 years. 

It is not a secret that Gov. Newsom has given the CSU budget a 5% raise in hopes of seeing an incline in enrollment, as well as an investment toward the future of CSU students. Despite this push, there seems to be no progress moving forward between the CFA and CSU management.

Something a bit better kept is how much money the CSU is keeping to itself. While this is all public information, none of it is brought up in letters from the CSU regarding strike FAQs, general budget statements, etc. $2.5B is kept in reserves for the CSU. The majority of Cal State Presidents, including CSUEB’s Cathy Sandeen, received a 7% raise in their paycheck. 

Directing attention back to staff, budget cuts, and unfairness is nothing new. In the Fall of ‘22, 40% of Student TAs had been laid off from CSUEB’s Stem Lab, along with shorter hours and department cuts. There was no open communication which resulted in a very disoriented staff. 

Lectures, librarians, coaches, and all those who make up the CFA had not been satisfied with the unjust arrangements. Their requests have been deemed as “financially unrealistic”. The CFA’s request of a 12% raise in salary, extra maternal leave, and life insurance all accumulated to $380 million. 

Students themselves are also in support of the strike, to the point of joining CFA members on the picket lines. With the CSU tuition slowly increasing over the next 5-6 years, many students are finding it difficult to pay for higher education. To make matters worse, the new FAFSA simplification can cause more harm than good, causing many students to pay thousands of extra dollars in tuition. 

Many students took to social media to rally support for striking members as well. Attempts at “poisoning” CSU’s attempt to identify striking faculty, by posting on non-school affiliated forums, as well as X, formerly known as Twitter, accounts run by CSU students standing in full solidarity.

Negotiation tensions between the CFA and CSU were not just about pay or limited time off, it was also about the students. Without the proper funds, and with added stress and existentialism of making ends meet, both students and faculty are left at a crossroads of what to expect, and how far each party is willing to extend themselves.

On that same fateful Monday, disoriented emails were sent out at 9 PM, informing that the strike had been called off and classes were to meet the following day. A feeling similar to whiplash, many instructors were both happy and hazy with the sudden attitude change of the CSU. In the end, a tentative agreement was reached. Instructors were met with a tentative agreement, totaling a 10% raise overall. Not only this, but an increase in quality lactation spaces, gender-inclusive bathrooms, and fair parking wages were also met. 

A common slogan that was seen throughout protests, taped to a dragon, was “bite, and we bite back!” With unrelenting resistance, and a strong feeling of community, the CFA was able to fight for what they believe in, equality for all. This is the start of something bigger. 

 

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