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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

CSU Faculty Authorize Strike In Pay Dispute

CSU employees are asking for a 5% salary increase for the 2015-2016 academic year. The CSU chancellor's office offered 2%. 

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California State University faculty voted to strike if raise increase negotiations fail. 

More than 94 percent of participants in the 10-day vote approved a strike, the California Faculty Association announced Wednesday. The union represents an estimated 25,000 employees — including professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and athletic coaches — on 23 CSU campuses across California.

CSU employees are asking for a five percent salary increase for the 2015-2016 academic year, with an additional 2.65 percent for those at the lower end of the pay scale. The CSU chancellor's office offered two percent. 

Many professors vocally support the idea of a raise.  CSU Los Angeles Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies Melina Abdullah says she hasn’t had a raise in seven years. 

“For me, I’m a single mother-of-three, and what I earn is directly related to how well I can care for my children,” she said. “What we’ve experienced is really effectively a cut in compensation when we think about costs continuing to rise and we are not raising salaries with costs.”

John Schrader, a CSU Long Beach journalism professor, says his support of a possible strike isn’t necessarily about the money. 

“Most of us are not doing this [teaching] for the money,” he said, taking issue with the manner of negotiation itself. “They just haven’t treated us with a lot of respect. Respect isn’t just about two percent more, three percent or five percent. It’s really about them understanding that we’re partners in this business and a ‘take it or leave it, sorry that’s the best we can do pal, hit the road,’ really doesn’t show a lot of respect.” 

Gwen Shaffer, another CSU Long Beach journalism professor, acknowledges the possible necessity of a strike, but hopes to avoid such an outcome. 

“Most of my colleagues probably feel the same way,” she said. “We hope it doesn’t come to a strike. I’d hate to see that happen for the education of our students and the continuity of our classes.”

A potential strike would not take place until after fact-finding hearings, scheduled for Nov. 23 and Dec. 7.  The chancellor’s office says in a statement it’s committed to reaching a “negotiated agreement.” They say their raise proposal is valued at $32.8 million while the union’s request comes out to $101.7 million. 

The chancellor’s office also said that it would put a squeeze on other goals including “enrollment growth, the hiring of new faculty, facility improvements and repairs, technology upgrades and investing in student services and programs that support degree completion.” 

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