CSU, Teamsters Reach Agreement, But Faculty Strike Still Looms

CSU, Teamsters Reach Agreement, But Faculty Strike Still Looms
Faculty members demonstrate in a previous protest for higher wages and benefits at California Polytechnic State University of Pomona, in Pomona, Calif., on Dec. 4, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
City News Service

LOS ANGELES—The California State University system has reached a tentative agreement with the union representing 1,100 skilled trade workers, averting a strike planned for next week, but the university still faces a much larger five-day strike by its faculty union beginning Monday.

The three-year contact agreement reached Friday with 1,100 skilled trade workers at 22 of the 23 CSU campuses represented by Teamsters Local 2010 must be ratified by the union membership and will be brought to the CSU Board of Trustees for approval at its March meeting.

Skilled trades employees at the 23rd CSU school, Cal Maritime, are represented by a different union—IUOE International Union of Operating Engineers.

Both sides will provide further details regarding Friday’s tentative agreement in the coming days, according to CSU officials. Key articles that remained under contention prior to the agreement included cost of living raises and regular salary step raises to move workers through their wage scale, the union said.

“I offer my most enthusiastic congratulations to everyone involved in the negotiations and applaud their commitment to the collective bargaining process,” CSU Chancellor Mildred García said.

“The work of our Teamsters-represented employees is invaluable, providing our students with an environment that supports their success, and I am thankful and appreciative that we have been able to arrive at a fiscally sustainable agreement that fairly compensates them for their skilled and dedicated work.”

The strike had been planned for Monday through Friday, coinciding with the first week of instruction of the spring semester for many CSU campuses.

The California Faculty Association (CFA), the union representing 29,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches across the 23-campus CSU system, said plans for its work stoppage remain unchanged.

The union said its strike would begin at 8 a.m. Monday, with picket lines at all campuses, including Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Los Angeles.

“There are so many issues within the CSU system that need to be addressed,” CFA member and Cal Poly Pomona Counselor Maria Gisela Sanchez Cobo said. “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. ... And I’m fully hurt and disheartened that CSU management increased tuition for students. ... they have no funding, but they have enough for presidents’ raises and more and more administrators.”

CSULB said classes would not be canceled for the week, “although individual faculty members may elect to participate in the strike and individual classes may be impacted.”

CSU officials announced previously that they would provide all instructional faculty, librarians, counselors and coaches with a general salary increase of 5 percent effective Jan. 31, rejecting demands for much higher increases and ending negotiations with the faculty union.

“With this action, we will ensure that well-deserved raises get to our faculty members as soon as possible,” said Leora Freedman, CSU’s vice chancellor for human resources. “We have been in the bargaining process for eight months and the CFA has shown no movement, leaving us no other option.”

The 5 percent salary increase is consistent with agreements the CSU has already reached with five of its labor unions, Ms. Freedman said. CSU officials previously said that a 12 percent general salary increase for CFA members is not sustainable for the university system.

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

Spokeswoman Amy Bentley-Smith said the CSU—the largest public university system in the country—is prepared for the strike, and working to ensure the least possible disruptions for students.

“The CSU respects the rights of CFA to engage in strike activity and takes seriously any such planned union action,” she said. “CSU will continue to meet its educational commitment to students. All CSU campuses will remain open during a strike to serve students and have contingency plans in place to maintain university operations. Our hope is to minimize any disruptions and that the strike poses no hardship on our students.”