CSU faculty members rally for higher salaries

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Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that an average salary of $96,000 was for full-time professors. This average salary is actually for full professors, as in those with the most seniority.

This is the second part of a series investigating faculty salary issues.

Over 1,000 California Faculty Association (CFA) members and supporters marched along the streets of Long Beach to the California State University Board of Trustees to demonstrate their solidarity in the “Fight for Five” rally Tuesday.

The CFA launched its “Fight for Five” after negotiations between faculty and CSU administration failed to reach an agreement for a salary increase. The faculty union has asked for a 5 percent General Salary Increase (GSI) and a 2.65 percent Salary Service Increase. The Office of the Chancellor proposed a 2 percent General Salary Increase (GSI), which the faculty union rejected.

Students and supporters joined the march in Long Beach, where faculty members from all 23 CSU system campuses wore identical red shirts that said, “I don’t want to strike but I will.”

“I’m out here in solidarity with the faculty,” said a CSU Northridge sophomore at the rally. “The CSU system has their priorities f***ed up.”

“We need to (come together), because I think the administration really needs to know we are committed to this,” said Kimala Price, associate professor of women’s studies at San Diego State University. She said CSU faculty members are willing to strike for higher wages; “It’s a show of solidarity.”

The CFA voted in October to authorize a strike.

Cost of living a statewide concern

The previous story in this series examined the experiences of Cal State Fullerton faculty members who failed to meet the cost of living in Orange County. However, it is not only CSUF faculty who are struggling and finding the gap between faculty and administration troublesome.

Ricky Gutierrez, professor of criminal justice at Sacramento State University, cannot meet the cost of living in the Bay Area. As a tenured professor, Gutierrez has been forced to take on extra classes during the academic year and classes in the summer to make ends meet.

“We flew (to Long Beach) because we deserve a raise,” Gutierrez said. “It’s been far too long since we have received one.”

Steven Levinson, CFA chapter president of CSU Monterey Bay, said he has seen the stagnation of salaries force his colleagues to live in the surrounding cities, such as Santa Cruz, because they cannot meet the cost of living.

“It has a real impact on students,” Levinson said. “(Professors) often have to leave right after class; they are not able to do the office hours very often and they have to have other jobs, so they aren’t able to give the time to students if they like to.”

Confusion over salary data

Prior to the march, a CSU Board of Trustees meeting took place with California State Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins in attendance.

The way both faculty and CSU administration compile and display salary data is confusing as there is an apparent difference between the numbers from each side, Atkins said.

“I think the bottom line is what does someone take home?” Atkins said.

The average faculty salary across all 23 CSU campuses is over $96,000 per year for full professors, over $86,000 per year for tenure-track faculty members and over $59,000 for full-time lecturers, said Toni Molle, director of public affairs at the office of the CSU chancellor.

However, because most faculty are hired on a part-time contract, “the earnings of CSU faculty are far less than ‘base salary’ numbers often quoted for CSU faculty,” according to a CFA document titled “Race to the Bottom: CSU’s 10-year Failure to Fund its Core Mission.”

Faculty size and workload

“I do have to say that faculty have been saying that they want more tenure-track faculty in classrooms and we do have more,” Molle said. “In the 2014-2015 academic year, the CSU hired 742 new tenure-track faculty, the most since 2007.”

Over 63 percent of CSU full-time faculty members have tenure, according to data from the 2013 profile of CSU employees.

As of the 2014-2015 academic year, around 62 percent of Cal State Fullerton’s 945 full-time faculty members have tenure, but 52 percent of instructional faculty members are part-time lecturers, according to CSUF Associate Director of News-Media Services and Social-Media Engagement Paula Selleck.

Although the CSU system has hired more faculty, the workload for professors has continually increased.

“I took two days off this week just so I could finish the work that is not done from school during a regular week,” said Eve Himmelheber, CSUF professor of theater and dance.

Himmelheber said that even as García hires more administrators, CSUF administration is putting money into programs and making teachers do more out-of-the-classroom teaching in order to justify administrators’ high salaries.

To Himmelheber, García seems to have her “head in the sand” about the situation, refusing to answer questions about her salary.

“She says she has done everything she can do, but she hasn’t,” Himmelheber said.

Future events

Following a statewide vote, the CFA has authorized a full strike, which will take place if further negotiations with CSU administration end unsatisfactorily.

The CFA and CSU management will meet on Nov. 23 and Dec. 7 for scheduled fact-finding sessions where both sides will present evidence to a panel made up of one CFA representative, one CSU management representative and a neutral factfinder. The panel will then examine the facts presented and recommend how a consensus can be reached.

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