What to Know About the Cal State Faculty Strikes - The World News

What to Know About the Cal State Faculty Strikes

Thousands of faculty members at the nation’s largest four-year public university system are canceling classes and mounting rolling strikes this week as they demand higher pay and better benefits.

The California Faculty Association, which represents 29,000 workers across the California State University system, announced a series of one-day actions at four campuses: Faculty at Cal Poly Pomona walked out yesterday, workers at San Francisco State are striking today, and work stoppages are planned for Cal State Los Angeles on Wednesday and for Sacramento State on Thursday.

It’s been an especially busy year for labor actions, particularly in California. Hollywood actors and writers went on strike; so did hotel and health care workers. The Los Angeles schools staff staged a huge walkout in March, and Oakland educators were off the job for nearly two weeks in May.

Here’s what you need to know about the Cal State strikes.

The California Faculty Association represents the professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches working at Cal State’s 23 campuses, which serve nearly 460,000 students.

The strikes are taking place at four of the largest campuses in the system, which together enroll almost a quarter of all Cal State students. Not all faculty members are part of the walkouts, but for those who are, classes for the day are canceled.

The actions are intended to signal to the university system’s leadership that the union can quickly organize its members for job actions if needed, Kevin Wehr, the union’s bargaining team chair and a professor at Sacramento State, told CalMatters.

“We’re going to demonstrate to them that we can shut down any campus we want with only a couple of weeks’ notice,” Wehr told the outlet.

Another union, Teamsters Local 2010, which represents 1,100 electricians, plumbers and other skilled tradespeople working for Cal State, is striking alongside the faculty this week. The Teamsters’ contract negotiations with the university are stalled as well.

The faculty union and the Cal State system are in talks over a new contract and modification of the current one, which runs until June 2024. More than 95 percent of voting members opted to approve a strike authorization in October, according to the union. It declined to say how many members voted.

The union wants an immediate 12 percent pay increase for the current academic year; the university system has offered a 5 percent increase for each of the next three years. The union also wants to raise the salary floor for full-time employees to $64,360 from $54,360, and is asking for other provisions including caps on class sizes and an expansion of paid parental leave.

University leaders say they’re grappling with a huge budget deficit and can’t afford what the union is demanding. The system has recently negotiated 5 percent increases with four other labor unions, according to Leora Freedman, the university’s vice chancellor for human resources.

“C.S.U. strives to provide fair, competitive pay and benefits for all of our employees,” Freedman said in a statement. “We recognize the need to increase compensation and are committed to doing so, but our financial commitments must be fiscally sustainable.”

She added: “We respect the right of our labor unions to engage in strike activities, and we are prepared to minimize any disruptions to our campuses. Our hope is that the planned strike activities pose no hardships on our students and that we can get back to the bargaining table as soon as possible with the C.F.A. to come to an agreement.”

On Friday, a fact-finding report written by a third-party negotiator was released as part of a mediation process. The negotiator recommended a 7 percent increase in faculty salaries for this year, “with other economic enhancements.”

But the negotiator also acknowledged that the faculty union and university had “radically different views” of Cal State’s financial situation: The faculty union believes that the university can draw on its reserves, the negotiator said, while management says it needs to set aside those funds for emergencies.

In an email to its members, the union said it believed 7 percent was not enough to address the loss in buying power, EdSource reported. (The negotiator noted that a 7 percent increase would not be enough to keep up with inflation.)

Union officials have said that after this week, they have no more strikes planned for December, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be more actions in the new year.

“The decision was made to start on the smaller side,” and leave room to escalate later if necessary, Wehr, the bargaining team chair, told CalMatters. “We don’t feel the need necessarily to go from zero to 60.”

Today’s tip comes from Catherine Sims:

“The Santa Barbara Zoo is set in a beautiful location, with mountain, ocean and Channel Island views. But come evening during the Christmas season, you can see gloriously lit displays of elephants, zebras, gorillas, dinosaurs and much, much more throughout the grounds. There is even an interactive area for children to enjoy.

It is hard to describe the effect of the stunning, handmade, silk-covered animals lighting up the night. Our family was wowed. We are looking forward to enjoying it again.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

What songs belong on a California holiday playlist? We’re hoping to release one before the New Year with your delightful recommendations.

Email me at [email protected] with your suggestions. Please include your name and the city in which you live.

An 80-year-old Bay Area resident who ran a 100-mile race in Illinois last month broke the U.S. record for runners over 80 by over two and a half hours, KTVU-TV reports.

The octogenarian, Wally Hesseltine, completed the Tunnel Hill 100 in just over 26 hours and 22 minutes, beating the previous record of 29 hours and 3 minutes. Hesseltine, the oldest runner to finish the Tunnel Hill race, in Vienna, Ill., placed 128th out of 179 runners overall.

The record, though impressive, is a drop in the bucket for Hesseltine, who has now completed 29 100-mile races, 56 marathons and more than 200 ultramarathons — meaning any footrace longer than the 26.2 miles of a traditional marathon.

Hesseltine said he had competed in at least one race every month for the past four decades to stay competitive. And he has no plans to slow down: He wants to finish an ultramarathon in all 50 states, with 45 already under his belt and another scheduled in Mississippi in March.

Why does he continue racing? Simple: “I still enjoy it, and I want to keep going,” Hesseltine told the news outlet.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Maia Coleman, Briana Scalia and Bernard Mokam contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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