California faculty strike averted, terms of deal pending

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California State University officials and the union that represents campus faculty are scheduled to reveal the terms Friday of a salary agreement that averted an unprecedented strike at the 23 campuses that comprise the nation's largest public university system.

The California Faculty Association and Cal State officials said in a joint announcement Thursday that they had reached a tentative deal on the size of the pay increases 26,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches will receive for the current school year.

Because the two sides had agreed a day earlier not to discuss the pending strike or the status of their negotiations for 48 hours, neither immediately would say how the months-long stalemate that threatened to cancel classes for five days starting next week finally was broken.

"I think everybody is really, really hoping this deal is something that is tenable," Adam Swenson, an assistant philosophy professor at Cal State Northridge who serves as president of the campus Faculty Senate, said. "The idea of hurting our students at all makes everybody feel sick, but at the end of the day if people can't pay their mortgages they have to do something."

Union members currently are in the second-year of a three-year contract that included across-the-board pay raises of 3 percent for the 2014-15 school year. Under that contract, salaries for subsequent years had to be renegotiated.

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 average salary for full-time faculty at CSU campuses varies by academic rank, with full professors earning an average of $96,660 as of last fall, assistant professors earning an average of $73,888 and lecturers making $58,265, according to the university.

Chancellor Timothy White, who leads the system, had maintained that after several years of state budget cuts the university did not have the $69 million it would cost to provide the raises demanded by the faculty union.

An independent fact-finding panel assembled after negotiators reached an impasse sided with the union, however. The panel issued a report late last month stating that boosting faculty pay by the requested amount was "in the interest of students, who need caring faculty."