Nearly 30,000 faculty members from 23 California State University (CSU) campuses went on strike on Monday, marking the largest faculty labor action in U.S. history and the first systemwide strike by the California Faculty Association (CFA) since 1983.
The strike is the culmination of ongoing contract negotiations between the university system and CFA that began last May. Among its demands, the union requested a 12% pay raise, better pay for lowest-paid faculty, and longer paid parental leave. CSU offered a 5% annual pay rise in response, stating the CFA’s demands were “financially unrealistic,” exceeding both the state funding increase and the entire budget of some campuses like Cal Poly Pomona.
“We are fighting against management’s self-defeating austerity policies that serve to shift funding away from classrooms, labs, libraries, athletics, and counseling centers,” the union wrote in a statement.
Last week, Leora Freedman, vice chancellor for human resources at CSU, stated that the university system had to withdraw from the negotiation process due to the union’s refusal to compromise. “We have been in the bargaining process for eight months, and the California Faculty Association has shown no movement, leaving us no other option,” Freedman said in a statement to The Mercury News.
The strike is expected to continue until Friday, January 26, with potential disruptions to classes and campus activities.
Meanwhile, CSU reached a tentative agreement last week with another union, Teamsters Local 2010, representing over 1,000 skilled trade workers. The agreement includes guaranteed annual raises and has been hailed as a positive development by both parties.
“I am thankful and appreciative that we have been able to arrive at a fiscally sustainable agreement that fairly compensates them for their skilled and dedicated work,” said CSU Chancellor Mildred García in a statement.