Sacramento Valley Union Labor Bulletin

Owned and Published by the Sacramento Central Labor Council and the Sacramento-Sierra’s Building & Construction Trades Council, official councils of the AFL-CIO

LABOR BULLETINSLIDER

CFA wins new contract after one-day strike at CSU campuses

By Sheri Williams

In late January, members of the California Faculty Association won a new contract after shutting down campuses of the California State system with a strike.

The strike was planned as a week-long effort, but a deal was reached after only a single day on the picket lines of the 23 campuses in the system.

“In case anyone forgot, strikes work!” the union wrote on social media after the victory. “After months of negotiations and two strike actions, our movement for a #betterCSU has paid off! Our members have won a Tentative Agreement (TA) with California State University management that includes raising the floor for our most vulnerable faculty, safer workplaces, and expanded parental leave.”

Charles Toombs, president of the California Faculty Assn., said in media that the new deal would raise the minimum pay for the lowest-paid tier of workers, many of whom can barely survive on their salaries.

These lowest-paid workers, which includes classroom instructors, make up more than half of the unions 29,000 members.

The new contract also includes a 10% general raise for most employees over a two-year period, along with extended parental leave, and better access to lactation spaces and gender neutral bathrooms.

“This agreement was won because of members’ solidarity, collective action, bravery, and love for each other and our students. This deal immensely improves working conditions for faculty and strengthens learning conditions for students,” the union said on social media.

The union had been bargaining with CSU since May 2023, but said in a statement it had been met with “disrespect and derision” by management.

“CSU management has only addressed our conflict over salary; they have completely ignored the issues of workload, health and safety concerns, and parental leave. Management wouldn’t even consider our proposals for appropriate class sizes, proper lactation spaces for nursing parents, gender inclusive bathroom spaces, and a clear delineation of our rights when interacting with campus authorities,” said Chris Cox, CFA Vice President of Racial & Social Justice, North, and San José State Lecturer.

CFA Pomona member and Cal Poly Pomona Counselor Maria Gisela Sanchez Cobo said they joined the strike for rights, respect, and justice.

“There are so many issues within the CSU system that need to be addressed. I know many faculty teach one class here, one class there. They’re driving across their county to make ends meet—that impacts that quality of teaching, the quality of learning. And our inadequate counselor-to-student ratios—we have so many students who are facing significant barriers. They’re working, they’re supporting themselves, they’re supporting their families, many are first-generation, they are immigrants. They need our help to work through those hurdles so they’re able to show up to class and learn,” Sanchez Cobo said in a statement. “And I’m fully hurt and disheartened that CSU management increased tuition for students. It’s very disturbing the incongruence of the narrative management presents—they have no funding, but they have enough for presidents’ raises and more and more administrators.”

“Faculty, students, and staff are resourceful, intelligent, driven people. If we had access to what we needed, more students would be thriving. CSU management needs to invest in the direct providers—the teachers, counselors, coaches, librarians,” Sanchez Cobo added.

Striking CFA members were joined by students, staff, and other supporters who are working to reverse CSU management’s disinvestment in the people who are directly responsible for student learning and success.

CSU East Bay student Crystal Chavira-Orduñez honored the strike and joined faculty on the picket line.

“I support faculty. Seeing, in this day and age, faculty facing such disparities, such unfairness is not the CSU I want,” they said. “I support the people I look up to, the people who have inspired me. I want them to be treated well.”

Chavira-Orduñez said they and other students have noticed faculty struggling with large class sizes and low pay, adding that students realize now is the time to join with faculty to reverse decades of disinvestment in the classroom.