California State University

California State University and its faculty union jointly announced Friday a deal that will raise instructor salaries 10.5 percent over the next two years.

Capitol Alert
By Alexei Koseff
akoseff@sacbee.com
April 8, 2016 – 10:00 AM

  • Deal includes 7 percent bump this year
  • CSU chancellor says deal provides ‘breathing room’ to figure out how to pay for it
  • Strike scheduled for next week averted

Just days before California State University professors were expected to walk out on the job, Chancellor Timothy White and the California Faculty Association jointly announced Friday a tentative contract agreement far more expansive than the 5 percent raise teaching staff sought for nearly a year.

The three-year deal averts a massive five-day strike at CSU’s 23 campuses and likely brings to an end months of wrangling over instructor salaries. Among other terms, it will provide a staggered pay increase of 10.5 percent over the next two years to approximately 26,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches.
Lawmakers and drumming students joined faculty at the Capitol on March 30, 2016, to call for a 5 percent raise for teaching staff. Alexei Koseff akoseff@sacbee.com

Though the dispute turned rancorous as the strike loomed – the faculty union organized a protest at the Capitol last week calling White a “liar” with “pants on fire” for saying the university did not have the money this year to offer 5 percent – both sides praised the agreement as a victory for CSU, professors and students, whose classes will not be disrupted while they prepare for finals.

“We are creating more economic stability for faculty so that they can do their job and focus on students,” faculty association President Jennifer Eagan said. “This agreement will not make faculty rich or end all our economic problems. But it will alter the course of our relationship with the chancellor and send a huge signal that we can function as a team.”

Eagan was complimentary of White for coming to the negotiating table directly in the final days before the deal was reached, a sign of respect to faculty that she said opened the lines of communication and paved the way for the longer-term contract.

White said an independent fact finder’s report released late last month that largely sided with faculty changed the administration’s thinking about the problem. Recognizing the report’s conclusion that instructors make less on average at CSU than peer institutions, and that the university’s budget for the year was mostly spent, he said, allowed them to “crack the Rubik’s Cube of finding a way to do this” and move to a three-year plan.

The first raise of 5 percent will kick in June 30 and another 2 percent increase follows on July 1, essentially keeping salaries flat for the fiscal year that is almost over and giving faculty a 7 percent increase next year. The final 3.5 percent raise takes effect on July 1, 2017, along with additional 2.65 percent bumps for about 12,000 teaching staff members at the lower end of their pay rank.

CSU will use money previously set aside for compensation hikes this year and next year to cover most of the first increase. But White added that the disagreement over pay is a “symptom of a much stronger problem” with California underfunding the university. He plans to ask for more money from the state to cover the final year of the contract, which he estimates will cost about $200 million overall.

“Salary problems take many years to develop and will likewise take many years to solve,” he said. “It gives us the breathing room we need to achieve this with the help of lawmakers.”

While dozens of legislators, including Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, expressed support for the faculty’s “Fight for Five” campaign, Gov. Jerry Brown has repeatedly rebuffed the notion that he might revisit a deal struck with higher education leaders last May for four years of funding increases. CSU is already slated to receive a $130 million boost to its 2017-18 budget.

“We anticipate that CSU will accommodate this (contract) in the context of the guaranteed funding increases under the governor’s plan,” said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Brown’s Department of Finance.

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