Fight For Five

By Laura Johnston Kohl

We have a battle taking place in the Financial Branch of our California State Universities. Faculty positions are being voiced by the California Faculty Association. In California State Universities on 23 campuses, according to the CSU website, there are 460,000 students. There are 47,000 faculty and staff. The CSU system has richly rewarded the non-teaching upper-echelon of the bureaucracy over the years. This year the university has offered a paltry 2% salary increase. The California Faculty Association requested a 5% General Salary Increase, and a 2.65% Service Salary Increase for eligible faculty.

The CSU representatives claim that the “campus equity awards” should count for something, and should make their 2% offer more reasonable. However, these awards were received only by 1 in 5 faculty members. The effect on the low salaries of CSU faculty is miniscule.

For the last several months, there has been no resolution to the salary dispute. Finally, in September and October 2015, sessions of mediation were held. After several of these mediation sessions there is still no agreement. The CFA has asked it’s membership for a Strike Vote. The result was that 94.4% of the members have voted to authorize a strike.

In the near future there will be a full day of action on November 17 around the state at California State University campuses. There will be rallies on campuses, with many signs stating “FIGHT FOR FIVE!”, the five referring to the 5% raise that the CSU faculty is requesting. Several “fact-finding” days have been scheduled for the next few weeks, on November 23 and December 17.

What is the problem here? I researched what the Faculty members see when they do research about faculty salaries at other universities. On this site, the bar graphs show that IN EACH AND EVERY CATEGORY the faculty at Cal State University in San Marcos makes less than other California universities. In national data, on a list of the 500 highest faculty salaries, NOT ONE Cal State campus is listed. According to the Sacramento Bee, the CSU faculty has received small, or NO, pay increases over the last decade. The recession hit all education funding – and it has been very slow at rebuilding the funding.

How can we have superb universities, with top-notch faculties, when our salaries are some of the lowest in both California and in the rest of the nation? As Californians, we have always prided ourselves in our enthusiasm for wonderful public education. We are still riding on the illusions from the past. We are not there anymore.

Laura Johnston Kohl, a bilingual educator, author, and long-time activist lives in North County. She is an advocate of human and civil rights, and works to protect these rights locally and nationally.

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