Faculty Union Announces Strike

Margarete Dorr
Staff Writer

CSUEB faculty members picketing near the Music and Business Building.

The California Faculty Association (CFA) announced Monday they will hold a one day strike on the CSU East Bay and CSU Dominguez Hills campuses on Nov. 17 in response to stalled contract negotiations with Chancellor Charles Reed.

“The ultimate goals of the Nov. 17 concerted action are to push the CSU to move on contract negotiations and also to get Gov. Brown’s attention and involvement,” said CSUEB Chapter President Dr. Jennifer Eagan.

Since February 2010, CSU faculty contracts have been under negotiation and were officially up on Jun. 30, 2010.

The board of directors and chapter presidents of the CFA authorized the decision Monday morning after receiving votes from members which showed 93 percent of those cast favored a one day strike on one or more campuses, according to the CFA.

In anticipation of the strike CFA members and supporters held an informational picket yesterday morning, handing out fliers announcing the strike and reasons behind the decision.

According to CSUEB Professor Emeritus of History Henry Reichman, “Our contract has a provision that bars from strike, but because the contract is under negotiations the faculty is technically allowed to strike.”

Faculty grievances laid on the table include denied salary raises and salary compression.

“The gap is narrowing between the higher salary earning faculty members, such as tenures, and the lower salary earning faculty members, such as newly employed assistant professors,” said Reichman.

While many faculty members might agree with Reichman, there are those on campus who also believe the disparity among educators is not as black and white as it appears to be.

Tenured Professor of Economics Tony Lima, who has taught at CSUEB for over 31 years, said, “Instead of salary compression we have a case of salary inversion, which means there are a number of assistant professors who are making a higher salary than the tenured professors.

“The problems go all the way to the top; the Nov. 17 concerted action most likely will not attract the Chancellor’s attention. At this point there is not much the faculty can do,” Lima said.

CSU faculty salary information that is posted publicly online from the State Controller’s office indicates there are six assistant professors who earn a salary of $100,000 or more, seven associate professors who also earn salaries over $100,000 and 66 full professors who earn salaries less than $100,000.

“I worry that the Chancellor’s office is using the fiscal crisis as an opportunity to not only take back financial goods, but they are also interested in diminishing the role of the faculty in the institution,” Eagan said.

One thing Eagan also worries will be taken away is a faculty member’s right to be reviewed by a group of their peers when applying for a sabbatical or paid-leave, which was provided for under the old contract.

According to Eagan, the Chancellor would instead put the CSU president in charge of reviewing faculty sabbatical cases.

She further explained this would cause a series of problems, such as if the CSU president does not have an expert background in all departments or fields than he cannot make the most informed recommendation.

Also, if the president is biased towards a particular field of study then he will give more opportunity to those areas and the distribution would not be equal or fair.

The predictions for the Nov. 17 CSU faculty concerted action are that events will be held at both front entrances on campus here at CSU East Bay from sunup to sundown, and also at the CSU Dominquez campus, thereby representing faculty from the CSU system in both Northern and Southern California.

“As a teacher I hate to cancel class, but I also believe that it is important to model democratic behavior and good citizenship as a lesson to our students,” said Eagan. “If they ever face this extraordinary situation where their workloads are increasing while their salaries remain stagnant, then I would want them to act.”

While CSU students are affected by budget cuts to the CSU system, it is not apparent whether they should participate in the Nov. 17 concerted action.

A senior political science major at CSUEB Brandon Kiehne said, while he can understand the faculty’s difficult situation he does not think students should necessarily have to participate.

“I think that students should follow their hearts, if they feel the faculty deserves a raise and if they feel passionate enough to participate in the action,” Kiehne said. “However, I will not be participating in the strike due to the budget crisis and the fact that faculty are public employees of the state.

“Perhaps they should tighten their belts like the rest of us in this California economy,” continued Kiehne.

The role students will play in this concerted action is still undetermined, according to Eagan, who described the issue is mainly upon the faculty members to protect the quality of education and it should not be up to students to carry the burden.

“If the faculty don’t show up, and physically show our dissatisfaction, then we will get whatever the Chancellor offers,” said Eagan.