The union that represents 23,000 professors, librarians and coaches at California State University voted today to strike on Nov. 17, cancelling classes for tens of thousands of students at the system's East Bay and Dominguez Hills campuses.
"Our members are angry and are willing to take this kind of action to get the attention of the chancellor," California Faculty Association President Lillian Taiz said in a phone call with reporters.
The faculty union has been at odds with university management for years, and campus protests denouncing Chancellor Charles Reed are not uncommon. But this is the first time the union has ever approved a strike, Taiz said.
The parties are negotiating a new contract as well as "re-openers" from their prior contract. Faculty are striking over an issue in the prior contract: the university's decision not to grant a so-called "equity raise" program that would increase the salary of faculty who have been with the university for many years but make less than recently-hired professors. The increases would affect 40 percent of the faculty, the university says, and cost $20 million.
The union says the raises are needed in the interest of fairness, and that the money is a tiny portion of CSU's overall budget. The university says it's already agreed to more than $59 million in raises for the faculty for the two years of the contract that's been re-opened, and that state budget cuts in recent years make it imprudent to spend more.
"The $20 million CFA is... striking over would pay for 315 full-time temporary lecturer jobs, enrollment of 2,800 students or 3,150 course sections," says a statement from the CSU Chancellor's Office.
Faculty at all 23 CSU campuses will be holding informational pickets tomorrow and Wednesday in advance of the Nov. 17 strike.