By Patricia Rocha
Over a thousand supporters marched to the California State University Chancellor’s office on Tuesday Nov. 20 as part of the California Faculty Association’s “Fight for Five” salary negotiations. Faculty, students, librarians, coaches and other supporting unions from across the state made the trip to Long Beach to show their strength in numbers.
Associate Vice President of Lecturers Leslie Bryant, who represents the southern CSU campuses, said she was marching that day because faculty persevered during the recession, and they deserve a larger raise than the 2 percent currently being offered by the Chancellor.
“We helped the CSU by taking that sacrifice and continuing our work, and in the meantime our class sizes went up, our workload went up, and we continued to do our job,” said Bryan. “We continue to be there for our students, but at the same time we weren’t being compensated for that.”
She also expressed disapproval of the proposed agenda on that day’s board of trustees meeting to raise the presidential salary cap.
“They say they do that to meet the market, to get the best, but you need the best faculty as well,” said Bryan. “You need to meet the market value of the faculty.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 5 percent salary raise would cost $102 million, while the current 2 percent offer would cost $33 million.
Speaker of the California State Assembly and trustee Toni Atkins addressed these costs at the board of trustees meeting and the rally.
“These are the facts,” said Atkins to the union members and their supporters. “The CSU has more money and CSU will get more money. My colleagues and I know that you are working below 2004 salary levels and that’s not right.”
Though she said it would not be easy because of the many needs of the state, a balance needs to be reached.
“We want to make sure to increase enrollment,” Atkins said. “We want tuition to stay low, but we want you to be able to have a decent quality of life, to feed your families, and we want to reinvest in you because you have to reinvest in our students.”
She called on the union to hold herself, the other trustees and governor accountable for changes to happen.
“A process that takes you to the brink of a strike is not successful…We need you working here to make sure we take this fight where it belongs and put the pressure on us where it needs to be,” she said.
Students also showed support for their teachers by marching while wearing the faculty T-shirts that read “I don’t want to strike, but I will,” while others donned shirts with the Students for Quality Education logo on them. CSU San Marcos student Emilee Ramirez described the mission of the SQE group that has chapters at almost all of the CSU campuses.
“It’s basically to make students aware and rightfully upset about the conditions that are going on in higher education, like what we’re here for today: giving faculty fair raises,” said Ramirez.
She said a lot of students just aren’t aware of the issues surrounding things like limited classes, limited office hours and higher tuition.
“A lot of students don’t know, and that’s what the problem is,” she said.
The rally comes after 94.4 percent of voting CFA members voted yes to a strike authorization with 80 percent of CFA members having voted.
Rally coordinators also held a moment of silence to honor the death of CSU Long Beach student Nohemi Gonzalez and others affected by the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.