Less than a week before Cal Poly faculty members were set to join every California State University campus by going on strike, CSU Chancellor Timothy White and the California Faculty Association (CFA) announced on April 8 that the parties reached an agreement securing raises of 10.5 percent for all faculty members over two years.
Faculty members will receive a 5 percent bump on June 30, 2016; a 2 percent raise the next day, on July 1, 2016; and then a 3.5 percent raise for the 2017-2018 school year. None of the raises are retroactive to the current academic year. The agreement also provides 2.65 percent salary step increases for eligible faculty in 2017 and bumps promotion raises from 7.5 percent to 9 percent.
“We got it,” said Graham Archer, the Cal Poly CFA President and architectural engineering professor. “It’s wonderful. Overall, the reaction is very positive.”
The five-day strike, which was slated for April 13, 14, 15, 18 and 19 and threatened to detract from Cal Poly’s beloved Open House weekend, was called off.
“Had the strike gone ahead, Open House, in my mind, would’ve been a disaster,” Archer said.
CSU faculty salaries have lagged for almost a decade, which brought about the “Fight for Five” drive to strike. In March, an independent fact-finder sided with faculty’s demand for a raise. The CSU wrote a strongly worded dissent in response claiming it couldn’t rearrange its budget, and a strike seemed inevitable.
But on April 6, the CFA suddenly announced a 48-hour blackout period. Chancellor White had reached out to CFA leaders, for the first time, to negotiate directly with the union. Two days later, the agreement was announced.
In the press conference announcing the agreement, Chancellor White explained that, “the fact that we were able to move to a multiple year solution allowed us to crack the Rubik’s Cube of finding a way to do this.”
White and Archer emphasized the importance of lobbying for more state funding for public education in the upcoming years to continue to boost faculty pay.
“The problem with faculty salaries took multiple years to develop to this state, and it’s taking multiple years to crack and find a solution,” White said.
The agreement reached is tentative and still has to be approved by the CSU board of trustees in May.