Faculty union organizes at downtown diner

Mozes Zarate

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Dan Reidel Jason Conwell (left)  field representative for the CFA, talks with Paul Friedlander, former director of music industry at Chico State, after signing in to the meeting.

Dan Reidel
Jason Conwell (left) field representative for the CFA, talks with Paul Friedlander, former director of music industry at Chico State, after signing in to the meeting.

Members of the California Faculty Association packed into Mom’s restaurant on West Second and Salem streets Monday night to discuss negotiations for better compensation and working conditions.

The discussion was in preparation for the bargaining of the union’s forthcoming contract with the California State University, set to take effect after the current contract expires in June 2014.

The CFA is a union of more than 23,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches who teach in the California State University system.

Andy Merrifield, chair of the CFA bargaining team, chronicled a series of victories and losses for CSU faculty over the past five years at the meeting.

At the end of August, the CSU agreed to an across-the-board increase of 1.3 percent for members as part of a new agreement for the current contract.

Merrifield estimated that the increase would amount to about $960 a year for most faculty, or $80 a month.

“Nineteen million dollars was a small step in the right direction,” Merrifield said. “But it’s not going to fix years and years of no compensation.”

A survey was released to members in an effort to gauge their greatest concerns. The results allow the union to create “sunshine” proposals, general items that become the basis for the negotiations. The union is still trying to gather more input before the final results are released.

Susan Green, treasurer for the statewide CFA, said that she felt encouraged by the turnout of the meeting and the new people who attended.

“What we get from the contract is a collective effort,” Green said.

Based on a preliminary analysis of the results, salary increases were still a primary concern.

“When you feel you are valued as an employee of the CSU, and there is recognition for what you’re doing, that can translate directly into what the classroom experience is going to be like,” said Vince Ornelas, CFA chapter president for CSU, Chico.

Attendees of the meeting also addressed employee workloads and top-down online courses implemented by the administration instead of faculty.

Merrifield stressed that issues like compensation won’t just affect CSU employees, but also students.

Insufficient compensation can lead to “rolling” departments, or departments where faculty are forced to leave or seek other employment because they are unable to financially support themselves, Merrifield said.

The quality of education will suffer without permanent faculty members instructing students.

“It is absolutely vital that the faculty that teach our students have a commitment to the university,” Merrifield said.

Open negotiations for the successor contract will take place from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30.

 

Mozes Zarate can be reached at [email protected] or mzarate139 on Twitter.

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