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Business and Economics Librarian Judy Opdahl joins fellow faculty members on the picket line outside Cal State San Marcos on Monday. Photo by Laura Place
Business and Economics Librarian Judy Opdahl joins fellow faculty members on the picket line outside Cal State San Marcos on Monday. Photo by Laura Place
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Tentative agreement brings end to CSU strike

SAN MARCOS — Faculty at Cal State San Marcos and other California State University campuses returned to work Tuesday morning after reaching a tentative agreement with system administrators one day into a planned five-day strike.

The California Faculty Association, which represents around 29,000 employees across 23 CSU campuses, announced on Monday evening that they had reached a tentative agreement with CSU management, including a 5% general salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2023, and a 5% general salary increase beginning July 1, 2024, contingent on the state not reducing base funding for CSUs.

While these two 5% salary increases are well below the 12% bump demanded by faculty, CFA leaders said it will greatly benefit employees. 

“The collective action of so many lecturers, professors, counselors, librarians, and coaches over these last eight months forced CSU management to take our demands seriously. This tentative agreement makes major gains for all faculty at the CSU,” said CFA President Charles Toombs, a professor at San Diego State University.

CFA San Marcos chapter representatives and bargaining team members Michelle Ramos Pellicia, left, and Sharon Elise brave the rain at Cal State San Marcos on Monday as CSUs around the state kick off a five-day strike. Photo by Laura Place
CFA San Marcos chapter representatives and bargaining team members Michelle Ramos Pellicia, left, and Sharon Elise braved the rain at Cal State San Marcos on Monday as CSUs statewide kicked off a five-day strike. Photo by Laura Place

Faculty and administrative representatives also agreed to raise the salary floor for the lowest-paid faculty by $3,000 retroactive to last year and by another $3,000 on July 1, 2024. 

Paid parental leave, which faculty sought to have increased to one full semester, was raised from six to 10 weeks. The tentative agreement also promised to improve access to gender-inclusive restrooms and lactation spaces for faculty and to provide a union representative for faculty during interactions with police. 

The historic systemwide strike included hundreds of professors, lecturers, counselors, librarians and coaches at Cal State San Marcos who braved the rain on Monday to picket on campus.

The CFA called for the strike last month, stating that the university system — the largest in the nation — had repeatedly rejected their demands and shown disrespect for faculty in negotiation sessions. 

Michelle Ramos Pellicia, president of CFA’s San Marcos chapter and overall CFA associate vice president, said the union’s last multi-day bargaining session earlier this month was cut short by CSU representatives walking out of the meeting. 

Cal State San Marcos faculty members brave the rain on the first day of a system-wide faculty strike at California State University campuses on Monday. Photo by Laura Place
Cal State San Marcos faculty members braved the rain on the first day of a system-wide faculty strike at California State University campuses on Monday. Photo by Laura Place

“We felt very disrespected… We are left with that sour taste in our mouths. We want them to come back to the table and give us what we deserve,” Ramos Pellicia said. 

Striking faculty, clad in red rain ponchos, were spread all throughout the campus under heavy rainfall Monday morning. Ramos Pellicia and dozens of other faculty members held the picket line outside of the administration building as students rushed by to get to classes without their professors. 

Xuan Santos, a professor of sociology, criminology and justice studies, said Monday that he sent a message to his students letting them know he and his colleagues would be on strike for the week. 

“What I am telling my students is that sometimes contentious politics are good; they are meaningful,” Santos said. “While some of us are out here protesting and getting wet, you know, we’re out here sending a message that it’s very imperative that we don’t just accept the status quo, but we fight for justice by any means necessary.”

Due to the strike, several classes were canceled Monday and campuses were reported to be largely empty.

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