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University, faculty agree to 10.5 percent salary increase over three years
CSU faculty pic
Stanislaus State students and faculty used a visit from Chancellor Timothy White in March to show support for a five percent increase in faculty pay. - photo by Journal file photo

Students at Stanislaus State, as well as the other 22 campuses of the California State University system, will be able to finish their spring semesters uninterrupted as a tentative agreement between the university and the California Faculty Association has averted a planned strike.

The tentative agreement gives all faculty a 10.5 percent general salary increase over a three-year period, starting with a 5 percent increase on June 30, followed by 2 percent on July 1 and then 3.5 percent on July 1, 2017. The agreement also includes a 2.65 percent service salary increase (step increase) for all eligible faculty in 2017.

"Faculty spoke up for 5 percent and we got it," said California Faculty Association President Jennifer Eagan on Friday.

The faculty association — which represents 26,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches — had scheduled a system-wide strike for April 13-15 and April 18-19 in protest of the size of the pay increases the university planned to give its members this year. The faculty association sought a 5 percent salary increase for 2015-16 along with a 2.7 percent pay bump based on years of service. The university offered raises of 2 percent — the same increase it had given other employees.

The strike was called off on Thursday, pending the details of the tentative agreement.

"It is upsetting to know that the professors and their dedication to the students has been so overlooked and ignored that they had to threaten to strike. I am glad that a tentative agreement  has been made and I hope that the professors are justly compensated for the work that they do," said Stanislaus State student Anna Powers.

The tentative agreement — that still needs to be ratified by CFA members and approved by the CSU Board of Trustees — comes after a year-long dispute between the faculty association and the largest public university system in the country.

Eagan said the agreement was possible due in part to Chancellor Timothy White getting involved in the negotiations.  Also instrumental in helping the two sides reach agreement, according to Eagan, were the many faculty, staff, students, legislative and communities allies who spoke up about the salary inequity.

An independent fact-finding panel found last month that faculty pay had not kept pace and that giving the requested raises was "in the interest of students, who need caring faculty, and certainly in the public interest as our country needs a well-educated population."

"The breakthrough was to reach agreement on trying to solve the problem over three years instead of over three months. That gave us the breathing room we needed," White said about the agreement.

"This dispute was an unfortunate symptom of a core problem in California, which is that the California State University and for that matter, the University of California are underfunded relative to the state's need for an educated populace," White continued.

The tentative agreement also includes minimum increases upon promotion, effective July 1, from 7.5 to 9 percent for tenure-line faculty who are promoted from assistant to associate professor and associate professor to full professor. Faculty hired on or after July 1, 2017 will receive full health benefits upon retirement at age 50 with at least 10 years of service credit — instead of the current five years required. Faculty meeting those requirements also will be eligible for a basic dental plan paid for by the CSU.

Going forward, the bargaining calendar will be altered so that CFA and CSU management will negotiate salary prior to the establishment of the CSU’s budget process and their request for funding from the legislature.