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University faculty protest unpaid salaries, executive pay increases

University faculty protest unpaid salaries, executive pay increases

California State University, Stanislaus faculty join colleagues in a statewide protest against the CSU’s bargaining tactics Tuesday.


POSTED November 8, 2011 7:40 p.m.

The California State University Office of the Chancellor isn’t negotiating labor contracts in good faith, claims the CSU faculty union, but the Chancellor’s Office says there isn’t enough money to meet faculty demands.

California State University, Stanislaus faculty joined colleagues in a statewide protest against the CSU’s bargaining tactics Tuesday, which some other campuses will engage in today.

“On Nov. 8 and 9, the California State University faculty will send a strong message to the Chancellor that his priorities are off-base,” said California Faculty Association President Lillian Taiz. “Once and for all, he must do what is best for students and the future of our public university system instead of making decisions based on keeping his management team happy.”

The CFA’s concerns are myriad, but stem from what members view as unpaid salary – though executive pay continues to increase – and bargaining battles where the CSU management looks to “take away” powers long held by the faculty.

“The Chancellor is running a public institution like a Fortune 500 company and it is destroying the system,” Taiz said. “Our mission is to educate the people of California.”

The unpaid salary claim links to previously approved salary increases for the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 fiscal years. Due to state budget cuts, the CFA was forced to renegotiate those increases.

The CFA offered “rational and generous” concessions in those negotiations, according to CSU Stanislaus CFA chapter president John Sarraillé. The requested salary adjustments were not large, he said, merely enough to address some ongoing salary compression – where workers have gone years without raises – and salary inversion – where new hires make more, as older employees have received no raises though the pay needed to attract professors has increased.

“They came back and said, ‘You get nothing,’” Sarraillé said.

The Chancellor’s Office has maintained that negotiating stance, holding the line with no across-the-board salary increases for any CSU employee group since 2008.

“We’ve made this determination that we’re not going to provide salary increases,” said Mike Uhlenkamp, CSU spokesman. “It’s not prudent for us to provide $20 million for salary increases.”

Salary increases for faculty members would likely cost the CSU just that, plus a further $10 million annually, according to Uhlenkamp.

But the CFA says the CSU can afford the demands, as the CSU has continued to increase executive pay – newly hired presidents have received salaries as much as $100,000 more per year than predecessors, and equity increases were paid to managers but not faculty – to the point where the average administrator earns four times the average salary of faculty.

Uhulenkamp said any salary increases were warranted, as in some cases the positions took on more duties due to budget cuts which eliminated other positions, seeing one person sometimes take the work for two. Faculty members say that they too have taken on additional work as positions were slashed and students increased – up 18 percent since 1998, though tenure track faculty counts have remained flat – and salaries have remained stagnant.

In both 2009 and 2010, a neutral fact finder, called in to advise on negotiation disputes, found that the CSU could and should pay a compromise salary increase – less than previously negotiated, but more than the 0 percent raise advocated by the CSU. In both years, the CSU system declined to pay any salary increase.

CFA negotiators have also taken issue with policy changes.

Campus presidents would receive new authority to determine which courses are evaluated, gain new discretion over appointment rights for non-tenure-track faculty, and be able to conduct external reviews. The Chancellor’s Office is also working to negotiate an exception to seniority layoff rules.

The Chancellor’s Office categorizes the efforts not as take backs, but as gaining the opportunity to review.

“The idea is that we’re trying to review that process so it’s not a guarantee,” said Uhulenkamp.

Also on Tuesday, 93 percent of CFA voters approved Nov. 17 strikes at the CSU East Bay and CSU Dominguez Hills campuses. A bus is expected to carry some faculty protestors from CSU Stanislaus to participate in the CSU East Bay strike.

Though the CSU Stanislaus leadership has no direct impact on the ongoing negotiations, CSU Stanislaus spokesman Dave Tonelli said he hoped Tuesday’s protest would draw attention to the underlying issue all CSU campuses are dealing with – a lack of state funding at a time of increasing demand.

“We’re all frustrated by the disinvestment of the state in higher education,” Tonelli said. “We would hope efforts like this would refocus attention to restoring funding to higher education.”

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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