A new faculty contract is still being negotiated, but California State University employees say they want their cry for better conditions to be heard.
"We are doing everything we can to draw attention the fact that money is being misused,” said Chris Cruz-Boone, professor in communications at Cal State Bakersfield. “Executives are abusing their power and abusing state tax dollars, enough is enough."
Cruz-Boone is a lecturer representative on the board of directors for the California Faculty Association (CFA) for the Bakersfield campus. She's on a year-to-year contract as a lecturer, and says if she accepts the contract the Cal State board proposed, she could be fired at any time even after she's been there for six years and gets excellent annual reviews.
"Faculty working conditions are the student learning conditions,” she says. “My students' learning is the most important thing to me, and that's why I voted to strike.”
She believes the university's pay raises for executives is at the root of why Cal State has recently cut faculty and raised tuition.
Michael Uhlenkamp, spokesman for the CSU Chancellor’s Office says the board is in the fourth quarter of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement and talk of strike is too premature for a decision that could take months. He says the CSU labor team is working with the CFA’s bargaining team to cut a deal since the last employee contract ended 2 years ago.
But it's no easy process, Uhlenkamp says. There are 41 different components to work out for the agreement, such as salary and leave time. He says only 8,300 people out of CSU’s 24,000 employees voted to strike.
"It is our hope that we can arrive at some sort of negotiated agreement,” he says. “The only way that's going to happen is at the bargaining table, it's not going to happen through threats of a strike or threats or a walkout, it's going to happen at the bargaining table."
Some students side with the faculty's decision to strike if their contract fails.
"The administrators, Chancellor Reed and the board of trustees should see that if students are rising and having all these protests on campus and the faculty are voting 95 percent then they're doing something wrong,” said Noor Qwfan, a graduating senior at CSUB, who says she recently protested the CSU tuition hikes.
"It’s a trickle down effect, so of course we're going to feel some result of whatever they're striking for," said Philemon Norris, a CSUB senior in Political Science.
The CFA is made up of the university's coaches, counselors, lectures, tenured-track faculty and librarians. They all could miss two days of class, but employees say they're still deciding how their two day strike will look if at all.
"We don't want it to affect our students,” says Cruz-Boone. “So we envision it looking a lot like the furlough days we took last year, we're we took unpaid losses of days."
She argues the Cal State contract, as the board proposed, gives executives too much power and more money should be allotted to instruction.
"We don't want to strike but we will,” she says. “We have students on a hunger strike right now about these issues."
Negotiations for the CSU contract continue Thursday and Friday. On Tuesday, some faculty members say they plan to protest outside the board of trustees meeting at CSU, Long Beach.