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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Possible CSU faculty strike: What it could mean for faculty and students

A faculty strike could happen in October or November if faculty needs are not met, according to Chico State professor, Lindsay Briggs.
Created+by+Ariana+Powell+on+Aug.+25.
Created by Ariana Powell on Aug. 25.

A faculty strike could occur at Chico State and other California State Universities in October or November due to an impasse between the California Faculty Association and CSU management.

The CFA has been negotiating Collective Bargaining Agreement contract terms — specifically articles 20, 23, 31 and 37 — with CSU management since May, two months before their contracts expired. Contracts are negotiated every three years.

Here are some of the requests on the CFA’s docket:

  1. A 12% increase for all CSU faculty, and a salary floor increase for the lowest-paid faculty, including lecturers; see related proposal here
  2. A minimum course cap, to keep class sizes smaller; see related proposal here 
  3. Extend the current 30-day paid parental leave to span an entire semester; see related proposal here
  4. Provide safe restrooms for queer, transgender and gender non-conforming faculty; see related proposal here 
  5. Provide a union representative in the event of a law enforcement interview, and officers must leave guns outside the interview space; see related proposal here 
  6. Set counselor-to-student ratios to 1:1,500 to improve student access to mental health services; see related proposal here 

To check out all CFA and CSU proposals and counterproposals, go here.

After an early August bargaining session, the CFA declared an impasse, due to CSU management’s insufficient counterproposals, specifically regarding the salary increase.

An impasse is declared when a compromise cannot be reached. The motion has been certified by the Public Employment Relations Board as of Aug. 14. From here, an impartial mediator will be assigned to interview both sides and strike a compromise.

However, if the mediator can’t sow a middle-ground, “fact-finding” will begin. A three-person panel, one each representing the opposing sides and a third impartial party, will check the facts and suggest a solution.

If a compromise is still not reached, the faculties’ no-strike clause will end, and a strike could be imminent. A vote must take place among the 29,000 CFA members before a strike can officially begin. 

In the event of a strike, all involved professors will withdraw their labor, meaning classes will be canceled and no assignments will be graded until it concludes.

The type of strike has not been determined, but Lindsay Briggs, Chico State professor and CFA Chico chapter faculty rights co-chair, mentioned some possibilities: 

  1. A rolling strike — each university would strike one-at-a-time
  2. A symbolic strike — faculty members would strike for one day as a statement
  3. A complete strike — all interested faculty members would strike until a fair compromise is reached
CFA’s “I am #StrikeReady” poster provided to faculty. Courtesy: Lindsay Briggs
CFA’s commit card provided to faculty. Courtesy: Lindsay Briggs

No matter what is chosen, Chico State faculty members and students can prepare for the possibility of a strike. Faculty members can prepare by:

  1. Adding a syllabus statement notifying students of a possible strike
  2. Signing a commit card, so it’s known who’s participating
  3. Printing a “Strike Ready” poster and attaching it to office doors

Briggs says 16 faculty members have submitted their intent to strike. She hopes more will do the same, including non-union members. To sign the commit form, go here. To see the CFA’s suggested syllabi statements, go here.

Students also have the ability to help their faculty members. Briggs suggests students use social media to spread awareness of the possible strike and the reasons behind it, ask questions and take part in protests or other events hosted by the CFA.

Timothy Sistrunk, Chico State professor and CFA Chico chapter president, also asks students to start conversations within and outside our campus population, and to remember that a strike would impact our entire community, not just the faculty.

An Aug. 10 statement from Jolene Koester, the CSU interim chancellor, explains why CSU management proposed a multi-year general salary increase in opposition to the CFA’s 12% GSI request.

Amy Bentley-Smith, CSU Chancellor’s Office director of strategic communications and public affairs, told The Orion:

“The CSU looks forward to further discussion with CFA about the issues — facilitated by the state-appointed mediator. Our goal has always been to reach a fair agreement with CFA within the funding constraints that we face.”

A CFA bargaining FAQ list can be found here.

In response to the current bargaining developments, Michelle Hatfield, CFA communications specialist, said:

“CSU management refuses to acknowledge the profound negative impact the current situation has on students and faculty — management would be happy to continue under-resourcing Title IX programs, rejecting adequate paid parental leave, offering pay that does not pace inflation, refusing to invest in student mental health counseling, spending public funds on excessive executive salaries and maintaining bloated administrative ranks, to name a few.”

An in-depth feature and updates on the CFA bargaining will be posted as they happen.

Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Ariana Powell
Ariana Powell, Editor-in-Chief
Ariana Powell is in her fourth year at Chico State as a media arts (criticism) and journalism (news) double-major. Now in her fourth semester on The Orion and having assumed the editor-in-chief position, she is prepared to continue helping upcoming journalists and endeavors to continue building her repertoire of multimedia and writing skills. In her free time, she enjoys writing, watching and analyzing films, reading and spending time with her loved ones.

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