On 7 November, the California Faculty Association (CFA) announced that it will call for a one-day strike at California State University, Dominguez Hills and California State University, East Bay ten days later. The text of the announcement can be read here. For CSUN faculty, it is not legal for CSUN faculty to strike as well. However, CFA have asked faculty at other CSU campuses to take personal holidays (which is legal) to show support for the strikers at Dominguez Hills. Should I do this, it will mean the cancellation of all classes on 17 November. I have not yet made a decision on whether I will take a personal holiday on that day, and I value student opinion on the matter.
The issues leading up to this strike action are very complex, but here are a few important details. Faculty have been working under an expired contract since at least 2007 (maybe longer–I can no longer remember). CFA negotiated significant gains for a new contract beginning in the 2008-2009 academic year. The major issue was faculty salaries which lagged very significantly behind those of peer institutions. However, a provision in the contract was that the Chancellor could walk away from the negotiated pay settlements in the event of a financial emergency. He chose to use that option when the economy crashed soon afterwards. Since then, the Chancellor’s office and CFA have continued to negotiate on and off for the 2008-2009, 2009-2010, and now 2010-2011 academic years. This has involved multiple bargaining steps ending with two independent fact finders’ assessments that a portion of the previously negotiated settlement was available to pay faculty salaries. However, the Chancellor’s office has not accepted the fact finders’ reports and has instead proposed new provisions of the contract which would quite possibly involve faculty taking pay cuts in the future. The CFA’s document Chancellor Reed’s Inconvenient Truths provides further background, though it should be noted that this document reflects the CFA’s point of view. An independent news account can be found here.
As I may have to make some very hard decisions in the near future about whether to participate, directly or indirectly, in strike actions that may impact I students, I would very much like my students’ opinions on the matter. Therefore, I have created this short two-question survey designed to give me some idea of how my students feel. If you wish me to have a voice in the decisions I will be making, please do fill out the survey.