Fresno State faculty react to CSU, CFA tentative agreement

Kate Nemarich Image
Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Fresno State faculty react to CSU, CFA tentative agreement
The California State University and the California Faculty Association announced a tentative deal late last night.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The California State University and the California Faculty Association announced a tentative deal late last night, effectively ending the system-wide strike across all 23 campuses, but not all faculty are thrilled with what they've seen so far.

"I feel like I'm in 'The Wizard of Oz' right now, and The Wizard is telling us, 'Oh, there's all of these wonderful things that are being proposed,' and then we pull back the curtain, and we see that it's all just a sham," said Benjamin Boone, Fresno State Professor of Music.

Just one day into the first-ever system-wide strike by California State University professors, it was called off after a tentative agreement was reached between the university and the California Faculty Association.

The union had requested a 12% increase in salary.

Monday night's agreement showed CSU offering a 5% salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2023, a 2.6% increase next year on the employee's next hire date anniversary, and another 5% increase on July 1 of this year contingent on the state's budget for the university system.

Local union leadership says that exceeds their salary request.

"That effectively is a 12.65% increase for a lot of faculty," said Andrew Jones, CFA Fresno State Vice President.

But some members said they're unhappy that part of the pay increase hinges on state funding.

"We've burned by contingencies in the past and we denied the contingency that was in the offer in the past, so I'm not quite sure why we're accepting it right now," said Boone.

Boone also took issue with the lack of mention of increased counseling staff for students, which he believes should be a priority.

"I need to delve deeper into the details, but on the surface level, I think the serious, serious concern of psychological services for our students is not being addressed," said Boone.

Union leader Jones said the contract addresses that issue but does not lay out requirements.

"We do have language that will be in the contract that kind of tells you what the ratio of counselors to students should be, so that's a step in the right direction," said Jones.

The agreement also increases paid parental leave from 6 to 10 weeks, which both Jones and Boone called a step in the right direction.

On the other side, CSU Chancellor Mildred García released a statement saying, "The agreement enables the CSU to fairly compensate its valued, world-class faculty while protecting the university system's long-term financial sustainability."

Jones said it will take a few weeks for the full tentative agreement to be released to union members and then another several weeks for them to vote, so we won't see a full outcome for up to two months.

He also noted this was not a full contract negotiation but rather a third-year negotiation and extension of an existing contract, so if this contract falls short of faculty expectations, they will be able to address those issues during full contract negotiations next year.

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