Approximately 261 days and counting. In that time Israel and Palestine have reached a peace agreement, as have Catholics and Protestants in Ireland; the Yankees won the World Series; and John Glenn became the oldest astronaut in history. But still the California Faculty Association and Cal State University Board of Trustees have yet to reach a contractual agreement, similar to the current NBA lockout occurring between owners and players.
To address this issue, the Fullerton chapter of CFA met to discuss issues concerning CSUF faculty on Monday. Currently, the CSU and CFA are involved in negotiations on a range of issues including salary, workload and merit pay.
Chapter President G. Nanjundappa began Monday's meeting by addressing a letter circulated by CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. In this letter Reed rehashed the CSU offer of a 5 percent salary increase for faculty and the 6 percent proposed by the CFA. This increase is in response to a salary lag between Cal State faculty and faculty of comparable institutions.
“We have reached a point where we can not make any more concessions on compensation issues,” Nanjundappa said. The association originally lobbied for a 7.8 percent salary increase; they have now lowered that figure to 6 percent due to what Nanjundappa referred to as “good faith” in the bargaining process. This 1.8 percent cutback by the CFA accounts for $18 million. The CSU has maintained the 5 percent offer.
Due to this firm stance by the CSU, CFA members discussed more extreme measures for alleviating the situation. The possibility of adopting a “Work to Rule” format and a faculty strike were mentioned several times in the meeting.
In the letter Reed said the salary gap would be closed in the next three years. He also raised the issue of merit pay and the necessity to continue rewarding faculty based on performance.
Sandra Sutphen, who teaches in the political science department, said the CSU is forcing them into a merit system that leaves faculty divided and unhappy.
Nanjundappa noted Reed's comments concerning CFA membership which consists of only 30 percent of all Cal State University faculty. Nanjundappa and other members voiced their distaste for Reed's letter. Members talked about what they felt was an effort by Reed to disenfranchise non-CFA faculty members from the association. Since CFA negotiates contracts for all Cal State faculty, Nanjundappa said this is likely.
“ I seriously think we're getting reamed by the (Cal State) university,” said Mitchell Avila, philosophy professor. Avila said the possibility of strike should seriously be considered in the spring if a contract is not reached.
Avila admitted such action is drastic but may be necessary. Ultimately, Avila admitted if such action was taken, the students would suffer.
“I think the last thing we want to do, is to do something that would indeed hurt the students,” said history Professor Leland Bellot. Bellot said students had a stake in these negotiations as far as quality education is concerned.
“To be honest, not much has been going on,” said Ashik H. Popat, Associated Students director of statewide affairs, when asked what actions are being taken in student's interest in the CSU and CFA negotiations. To date, Popat said Nanjundappa had never brought the issue of negotiations to ASI, but he did say the issue would be raised in the next board meeting.
“Doesn't look too hopeful at this point,” said Anthony Fellow, communications professor, who came to the meeting to see exactly where CFA and CSU negotiations stood. Fellow said he thought CFA membership on most CSU campuses was not strong enough to initiate a strike.
Gene Hiegal, CFA secretary, is concerned with providing a quality teaching and learning environment. Hiegal said he recalled a time when he knew the names of every student in his classes, but those days are past.
Whatever the case may be, the struggle continues for an upper hand in the contract battle. Although the outcome is still unclear, there is a possibility that students may find themselves at home next spring without any classes to study for and no basketball games to watch.