SAN MARCOS — Faculty at Cal State San Marcos and San Diego State University will join their colleagues at other California State University campuses in a strike planned for next week.
The California Faculty Association, which represents 29,000 employees, including instructional faculty, librarians, counselors, and coaches, across 23 campuses, called for the system-wide strike last month following unsuccessful contract negotiations with CSU management.
The five-day action is planned from Jan. 22 to Jan. 26.
Negotiations have stalled around four specific articles related to salaries, health and safety, paid leave, and benefits. CSU has offered faculty a 5% raise set to take effect Jan. 31, while CFA has pushed for a 12% salary increase for its members.
“Our members refuse to give in to what they know is beneath their worth,” said Charles Toombs, CFA President and professor of Africana Studies at SDSU. “Unlike management, we are unwilling to be complicit in the harming of our colleagues, students, and staff. Our commitment to one another is unshakeable.”
CSU management said they respect the rights of their employees to strike and will plan to minimize any disruptions on their campuses.
“The CSU respects the rights of the CFA to engage in strike activity and takes seriously any such planned union action. CSU will continue to meet its educational commitment to students. All CSU campuses will remain open during a strike to serve students and have contingency plans in place to maintain university operations,” the university system said in a statement.
At Cal State San Marcos, university spokesperson Brian Hiro said all student services and resources will continue as planned. The strike is not anticipated to have an impact on students’ ability to complete their courses or graduate on time.
“It is important to note that CSUSM has not canceled classes during this period and does not intend to cancel any classes. However, individual faculty members may decide to strike that week, which could result in individual classes being canceled,” Hiro said. “As we respect the faculty’s right to exercise their right to strike, CSUSM is dedicated to ensuring continuity in education and minimizing disruptions for our student community.”
Along with the requested 12% salary increase, CFA is pushing for a semester’s worth of paid parental leave, more counselors to support students, the addition of gender-inclusive bathrooms and lactation spaces on campus, and commitments to protecting faculty rights during interactions with campus police.
These conditions are crucial to Dr. Sharon Elise, a 20-year sociology professor at CSUSM who serves as a CFA bargaining team member as well as a chapter representative and chair for the CFA Council on Racial and Social Justice.
“Our slogan this year was rights, respect and justice. We want that for all our faculty,” Elise said. “We’re not just bargaining for economic positions; we’re really bargaining for social conditions for faculty. We really believe our social conditions are mirrored in student conditions.”
Currently, the floor for the lowest-paid lecturer is around $55,000, which Elise said is not enough to support a family. CFA’s salary demands also include raising the base salary to be closer to $64,000.
The university system has defended its offer for a 5% raise that will be in effect for two years in a row, stating that it is consistent with the terms negotiated with five other unions.
CFA members were also angered to discover that the new CSU chancellor, Mildred García, receives a salary of just under $1 million.
For paid parental leave, faculty are demanding that the currently offered six weeks be increased to an entire 15-week semester. According to Elise, CSU management has countered with an offer of eight weeks.
While relations with management on the San Marcos campus are generally cordial, Elise said larger CSU management has communicated a strong disdain for faculty in the bargaining process, which is part of why she said a strike is necessary.
“I believe they don’t appreciate how aggrieved faculty feel,” Elise said. “This is not what we would expect from the people who are nurturing the largest education system in the country… It has to be nurtured, it has to be resourced, and trying to skin it down to bare bones is not serving the students.”