California State University faculty reach tentative contract agreement and will end strike

California State University faculty reach tentative contract agreement and will end strike

Faculty members of the California State University (CSU) reached a tentative contract agreement on Monday, coinciding with the commencement of a strike involving nearly 30,000 professors, librarians, coaches, and other staff at the nation’s largest public university system. The California Faculty Association (CFA) announced that its members would end their planned weeklong strike and return to work on Tuesday. The tentative deal, still pending ratification by union members, acknowledges the solidarity displayed by faculty, staff, and students across all 23 CSU campuses, according to a statement from the association.

CSU Chancellor Mildred García expressed her satisfaction with the agreement, stating, “The agreement enables the CSU to fairly compensate its valued, world-class faculty while protecting the university system’s long-term financial sustainability.” The work stoppage occurred two weeks after CSU officials concluded contract negotiations with a unilateral offer of a 5% pay raise starting January 31, well below the 12% increase sought by the union. The tentative agreement proposes a 5% retroactive raise from last year and an additional 5% raise on July 1. It also addresses the minimum wage for the lowest-paid faculty, as outlined in the union’s statement.

The strike coincided with the beginning of the new CSU semester, raising concerns about potential class cancellations if faculty members refused to cross picket lines. The California Faculty Association, representing approximately 29,000 workers, saw support from students who joined the picket lines to express solidarity. Some students emphasized the importance of fair treatment for professors and voiced opposition to impending tuition hikes scheduled for the fall.

In December, CFA members conducted one-day walkouts on four campuses, urging for higher pay, manageable workloads, and increased parental leave. The union argued that the university has sufficient funds, citing “flush reserve accounts” and operating cash surpluses. However, CSU Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Leora Freedman, asserted that these reserve funds are intended for economic uncertainties or emergencies, such as wildfires or earthquakes, and cannot be used for wage hikes.

The labor activity within CSU adds to a broader trend of labor actions across various sectors in the United States. In California, new laws have granted workers increased benefits, including more paid sick leave and higher wages for healthcare and fast-food workers. The past year witnessed strikes by teaching assistants and graduate student workers in the University of California System, further highlighting the growing emphasis on fair compensation and improved working conditions in various industries.