OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
2:00 PM – Monday, January 22, 2024
Almost 30,000 California State University (CSU) professors, librarians, coaches, and other staff across 23 campuses walked off the job in a week-long strike in order to call for higher pay.
On Monday, nearly 30,000 CSU faculty members at 23 campuses launched a massive strike in which they demanded higher wages.
The California Faculty Association (CFA), a union that represents 29,000 employees in the state, began the first-ever walkout at each Cal State campus on Monday morning.
Around 29,000 workers are represented by the CFA, and after reaching a late-Friday agreement with the university, 1,100 more CSU plumbers, electricians, and other skilled trades employees, who are represented by Teamsters Local 2010, were scheduled to go on strike as well.
The walkout coincided with the start of classes for the spring semester, initiating the first-ever strike at the university on the first day of class instruction following the return of students for the spring semester.
The CFA claimed that after presenting four contract proposals to CSU management on January 8th, the university treated them with “disrespect.”
The board of directors of the CFA union decided to approve the strike, which will go on until this Friday, January 26th.
In addition to higher pay, specifically a 12% pay increase overall, the demands of the striking workers include “parental leave, fewer police officers on campuses, [and] increased student mental health services.”
According to a correspondence from the university made public by the union, CSU offered a 5% wage increase and minor salary increases for department chairpersons.
The union claims that the university has money in its “flush reserve accounts” and that operating cash surpluses and the $766 million in emergency reserves that CSU has would be sufficient to pay for the salary increases.
Vice chancellor for human resources at CSU, Leora Freedman, stated on Friday that reserve funds are not available for pay increases since they are intended for economic downturns or natural disasters like earthquakes or wildfires.
“We’ve made several offers with movement, and most recently a 15% increase that would be paid over three years, providing faculty a 5% increase each year. But the faculty union has never moved off its 12% demand for one year only,” Freedman said.
Freedman continued, saying that the wage increase that the union is demanding would cost the system around $380 million in new recurring spending, which the university cannot afford.
Victoria Wilson, a political science lecturer who was a part of the strike on Monday at Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles, announced that her reason for striking is to call for higher pay. She stated that her salary varies from semester to semester, which impedes her ability to reach her long-term financial objectives.
“We’re just hoping for a better contract to ensure better pay and also the working conditions here on campus,” Wilson said.
Katerina Navarro, a student at Cal State Los Angeles, expressed her support for the strike. She was shocked that her classes were not canceled on Monday, which was the first day of her nursing program.
“Some more money needs to be invested in salaries and educational resources because people in education are severely underpaid for the work they do,” said Navarro.
Although CSU has not commented any further on the strike situation, the campuses will remain open to the public and classes will remain in session.
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