5-day work strike for California State University faculty officially begins

The union is asking for a 12-percent pay raise, increased counseling staff for students and extended parental leave.

Kate Nemarich Image
Tuesday, January 23, 2024
5-day work strike for California State University faculty officially begins
California State University faculty members at all 23 campuses, including Fresno State, are hitting the picket lines.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California State University faculty members at all 23 campuses, including Fresno State, are hitting the picket lines.

An unprecedented five-day work stoppage is underway at every campus after the CSU and the California Faculty Association failed to reach a deal for a new contract.

Horns honked, and whistles blew as students and community members showed support for striking faculty at Fresno State on Monday.

A sea of professors gathered at the intersection of Maple and Shaw, some leading the group in chants with megaphones, and even members of the school's marching band showing their support with music.

The California Faculty Association voted to go on a five-day strike after not reaching a contract agreement with the CSU system.

The union is asking for a 12% pay raise, increased student counseling staff, and extended parental leave.

The CSU has offered a 5% salary increase.

Fresno State professors say that doesn't even meet inflation, and is low compared to what other local colleges and universities pay.

"I've been here for 24 years, and I make $40,000 less than if I were teaching in Kern County Community College District. I'm making $15,000 less than someone without a doctorate, who has only been teaching there for seven years," said Benjamin Boone, a Fresno State music professor.

The CSU calls the CFA's 12% raise proposal "financially unrealistic," stating it would cost the system $380 million annually.

CFA Fresno State chapter President John Beynon says an audit of CSU finances commissioned by the union proves that the university can afford that raise.

They also point out that administrators have had no problem approving big raises for themselves.

"When you say that our executives should be getting 29% raises, or they should be making money, you know, leaps and bounds for year to year. They're making a moral statement, and that is 'we value ourselves more than we value the people who are in the classroom," said CFA Fresno State Chapter President John Beynon.

The CFA's audit report found the difference between what CSU is offering and what CFA is asking for is $232 million, and that quote, "can be met by the significant annual operating cash surpluses that CSU has generated for many years."

It goes on to say reserves will not even need to be accessed to meet the request.

Those on the picket line say it isn't just pay, but taking care of students and the quality of education are at the heart of the issue.

"We have other reasonable demands like taking care of the psychological health of our students by maybe having three more counselors. They won't even talk about it," Boone said.

Many students joined their professors on the picket line Monday, raising concerns about how the university has responded to the strike, notably, asking students to report professors who didn't show up to class, or if they couldn't get services.

"It's unfortunate. It gets me mad that our school is telling students to report teachers being out here when how about you just listen to us instead of trying to fight against this," said Karigan Wann, a master's student at Fresno State.

Beynon also had concerns about that system.

"They should not deputize our students to police us because that's essentially what it does," explained Beynon.

Fresno State has yet to comment on the strike, but did say the campus will remain open.

Operations, services, and events should continue as planned, and students should go to class unless their instructor has told them it is canceled.

CFA members are hopeful for a resolution before or by Friday when the strike is scheduled to end, but they say if not, they will still return to class on Monday and work on next steps.

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