Fresno State faculty prepare to strike, students worried it will impact graduation

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The California State University Board of Trustees met Tuesday and heard from frustrated faculty members, including some from Fresno State. It's the last meeting before thousands of professors are expected to strike next month. Some students at Fresno State are concerned it could affect them. Faculty at Fresno State and the other 22 CSU campuses are planning to strike on April 13th.

Tensions ran high at Cal State University's final Board of Trustees meeting before an impending faculty strike that will span 23 campuses across California. CSU faculty want a five-percent raise. Diane Blair, Fresno State Faculty Association, says "Two-percent doesn't help us even maintain a cost of living increase and it does nothing to really help the faculty make up for the years of disinvestment that have occurred."

Thousands of faculty members upset that CSU's Chancellor won't budge in contract negotiations, are preparing to strike from April 13-15th and 18-19th. Blair says, "We are five weeks away from a strike and we are really urging Chancellor White to come back to the table and bargain in good faith with the faculty."

The strike is hoping to send a message to CSU Chancellor Timothy White that more needs to be done to pay and retain quality faculty for Cal State campuses. Blair says CSU faculty members' average pay is less than the average pay for K-12 and community college teachers.

While many students understand where upset faculty are coming from, some are worried the strike could impact their studies. The five-day strike is planned for a crucial time towards the end of the semester, right before finals and when some seniors have major projects due. Janet Zaragosa, a senior at Fresno State, says "For me and my case it just kind of scares me because I'm about to graduate and I feel if these professors do strike, I feel they're going to make me come back to fulfill that time that was lost."

Fresno State administrators are advising faculty planning to strike - to give their students homework ahead of time so they don't fall behind in class. Students hope the strike won't affect their ability to graduate. Justin Ballenger, a senior at Fresno State, says "I would hate for graduation to be affected because of a strike. There's nothing we can do about it. We're basically losing because of things that are out of our hands."

An independent fact finder will be coming out with a report in the next few weeks. The report hopes to give an opinion as to what kind of raise the faculty should get.
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