Courtesy of Jil Rudolf
As the California Faculty Association has attempted to negotiate higher pay for faculty over the last two years, it has repeatedly stated that one of its priorities is “ensuring fairness for those of us who earn our livings as teachers.”
San Diego State’s International Youth and Students for Social Equality club is claiming the CFA in fact does not have the teachers’ best interests in mind, but instead is a means to gain contributions and support for the Democratic Party.
At its meeting on Tuesday, April 5, the socialist student organization discussed issues surrounding faculty salaries, including the bargaining process, increasing tuitions and class sizes, and insufficient support for the teachers on behalf of the CFA.
“What we are trying to warn teachers of is that the CFA isn’t really representing the teachers or really fighting for any significant education reform or demands,” SDSU IYSSE President Genevieve Jones said. “You can see that in even just the bargaining process.”
Jones said the “weak” pay increase request of 5 percent and almost six month-long process to set a date for the now-postponed strike are indicators of the minimal effort the CFA is putting into fighting for teachers.
She also pointed out the sums of money that the CFA and its affiliates have been contributing to the Democratic party.
According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, the CFA contributed $283,913 in the form of independent spending on races, ballot measures and other expenditures within politics.
Emanuelle Saccarelli, associate political science professor and member of the CFA, said he believes these unions are using the frustration of teachers and students to gain members in their unions and therefore support for the Democratic Party.
“They take our dues regularly and … a lot of that goes to fund the campaigns of the very politicians who are enforcing these conditions … and attacks on public education,” Saccarelli said.
In the 2011-12 Governor’s Budget for California, Governor Jerry Brown made substantial cuts to higher education, reducing the UC and CSU systems’ budgets by $500 million each, along with cuts for community colleges and Cal Grants.
However, since 2013, the enacted budget for higher education has increased by $4,664,788 and in a revision done to the 2015-16 budget, the governor announced extra funding to be spent on higher education, including an additional $97 million in funds allocated for the CSU, according to the CSU Budget Central blog.
“If you’re saying that right now we’ve seen a little bit of an increase, I don’t think that it’s significant and I don’t think that it’s going to lead to better conditions for education,” Jones said. “I have no faith that the budget for higher education is going to be restored to what it was or that the funds will be allocated properly … because of the capitalist system and how it’s set up.”
Saccarelli questioned where the money is going and how the increased funding is expected to benefit students or faculty.
However it’s not just the CFA that’s misrepresenting teachers, but the whole union system, Jones said.
“You can look at the history of the unions in this country over the past 30 years and see what they’ve done for the workers, which is really a history of sell-outs,” Jones said.
Jones said she believes the capitalist system has weakened actual power of the unions by passing legislations, dividing workers into multiple specific unions and restricting what strikes can consist of and turning them into acts of solidarity, which she says doesn’t really get anything done.
“I think that a lot of times students … don’t realize that we have a history of fighting,” Jones said. “I don’t think that they realize the power and influence that we have.”
The IYSSE weekly meetings are Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in the Presidential Suite of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.