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CSU faculty union agrees to furloughs; issues no confidence vote for chancellor

POSTED July 24, 2009 10:49 p.m.
Members of the California Faculty Association have joined other unions in the California State University system in agreeing to take a two day a month furlough through the 2009-10 fiscal year.
In addition to approving the furlough option, the CFA members overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence in CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.
The CFA represents about 22,000 CSU faculty. The acceptance of the furlough option was approved by 54 percent of the 8,800 voting members.
CSU professor John Travis, who chairs the CFA bargaining committee said the choices brought before the members “were awful,” but that the members “voted to shoulder a sacrifice for the good of the university.”
The 46 percent that voted no on the furlough option did so, Travis said, because they were upset Reed has not provided a guarantee that the furloughs will save jobs and classes.
Reed has asked all of the CSU’s 47,000 employees to take 24 furlough days to help close the gap on a $584 million budget deficit. Employee salaries and benefits make up the bulk of the CSU budget and the furloughs could save about $275 million, according to university spokesperson Claudia Keith.
“The faculty vote to negotiate furloughs will help to save jobs, preserve employee health and retirement benefits, and ultimately, allow us to better serve students,” said CSU Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Gail Brooks. “We are facing a financial crisis, and need to move forward to reduce our employee costs.”
While they did accept the furlough option, CFA members expressed a lack of faith in the CSU chancellor. The no confidence vote in Reed was passed by 79 percent of the voting CFA members.
Lillian Taiz, a CSU professor and president of the CFA, said members wanted to see Reed and the Board of Trustees wage a strong public campaign for higher education spending and that the no confidence vote was a “serious and damning indication” that Reed and the trustees had failed in the eyes of the CFA, according to Taiz.
The CFA is still negotiating with the CSU on when to take their furloughs. Most CSU employees will be taking furloughs on two Fridays a month, but the CFA is trying to set a calendar that would not interfere with classes.
To bridge a $584 million budget deficit, the CSU is implementing furloughs, enrollment caps, and increased student fees.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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