Members of the Cal State faculty union voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike in a pay dispute at the nation’s largest university system.
More than 94% of the members who cast a ballot voted to authorize job actions up to and including a walkout if the union and chancellor’s office are unable to reach a settlement in salary negotiations that began in May, the faculty group said Wednesday.
The two sides are stalled over salary increases for 2015-16, with management offering a 2% across-the-board pay raise and the faculty group demanding a 5% increase with an additional 2.65% boost for faculty at the lower end of the pay scale.
“We are ready to act if necessary and will do that for as long as it takes,” California Faculty Assn. President Jennifer Eagan said during a news conference at San Jose State University.
“This fight is about the bread-and-butter issue of salary, but that’s not all,” added Eagan, a professor of philosophy and public policy at Cal State East Bay. “The vision of CSU, who it serves and what its future can be is also at stake.”
The union represents about 26,000 professors, lecturers, counselors, librarians and athletic coaches in the 23-campus system.
The vote was conducted Oct. 19-28. It is the fourth strike vote taken by the faculty since 2007. Those votes have resulted in only one action, in 2011, when faculty at the East Bay and Dominguez Hills campuses conducted one-day strikes.
Cal State officials said that a 2% increase in compensation for all employee groups was part of the state budget request approved by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature.
The 2% increase for faculty is valued at about $32.8 million, officials said, while the faculty group’s proposal is valued at nearly $102 million, which they argue would prevent investing in enrollment growth and other priorities.
“The result of the California Faculty Association (CFA) strike vote is not unexpected,” Cal State spokeswoman Toni Molle said. “Similar authorizations were requested and approved by CFA members in prior CSU/CFA negotiations, and the strike authorization vote has now become a routine part of CFA’s post-impasse negotiation strategy.”
The two sides ended mediation talks without success and are now in the process of fact finding, conducted by a neutral third party. A report is expected in January, and if no settlement is reached, a strike could begin in early 2016.
Meanwhile, the faculty group announced that it will conduct a march and rally on Nov. 17 at the chancellor’s Long Beach headquarters during the regular meeting of the Board of Trustees.