San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Faculty union and CSU at an impasse, strike possible this semester

After no agreement was reached in bargaining and mediation, the two groups are moving to a ‘fact-finding’ stage
Courtesy of the California Faculty Association

After four bargaining sessions and several mediation sessions, the California Faculty Association (CFA) and California State University management are at an impasse, leaving the salaries, benefits and workplace rights of over 29,000 CSU staff undecided. 

The mediator recently approved the CFA request to move to the fact-finding stage of the bargaining process, where each group will present their proposals to a panel that will recommend a solution. If no conclusion is reached, however, faculty members are prepared to strike.

“The last thing we want to do is strike, the last thing we want to do is not show up for classes and not be there for our students,” said Jochen Kressler, the CFA San Diego vice president and exercise and nutritional science professor. “But it seems to be the only thing that reminds the administration who’s actually doing the work that matters because the CSU exists for the students.”

There are several issues that are contested between the CFA and CSU, including a general salary increase. The association proposal sought a 12% increase, while the CSU offered a 4% increase. After several bargaining sessions, the CSU increased its offer to 5%, which the CFA referred to as an “insult” in a press release.

The Union of Academic Workers (UAW) — made up of instructional student assistants, teaching associates and graduate assistants — is also bargaining with the CSU and expressed similar frustrations over wages.

“While I think it’s fair to say that faculty and academic student workers are passionate about our work and our teaching, we need to be compensated and treated fairly, with salary increases that make sense,” said Yazmin Lommel, an SDSU student and member of the UAW executive board.

Faculty also emphasized that they are not just seeking higher pay but also pursuing several issues important to the workplace.

“It’s not just about money, it’s also about well-being,” said Savanna Schuermann, a CFA member and anthropology lecturer. “We’re fighting for rights, respect and justice — more equity.”

These propositions include increasing benefits, adding single-occupant, gender-inclusive restrooms to each building and extending parental and crisis leave.

The association is also seeking workload adjustments, such as capping courses and reducing class sizes, which their proposal states will improve the quality of instruction. 

“Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions,” said Gloria Rhodes, the CFA San Diego president. “Our issues affect the students, we want to support them.”

The CSU has rejected these proposals, stating in a press release that the increases would “come with significant costs to the university” and “force the CSU to make difficult and painful decisions about how to reallocate its already limited financial resources.”

Kressler, however, argues that administrators have received salary increases in recent years.

“If you just look at the raises they give themselves… 7, 8, 9, 10% raises…those are real raises,” Kressler said.

As the two groups have left mediation without a settlement, the mediator has released them to fact-finding.

A strike can occur if that stage does not lead to a settlement.

If a strike does occur, CFA affiliated faculty may choose to cancel classes. However, not all CSU faculty may choose to strike or cancel classes. Other CSU faculty, including librarians and counselors, may also choose to strike. The association does not anticipate the strike disrupting grades or course completion as, in the past, they have not gone on strike long enough to impact graduation progress, such as a 2016 strike that was planned for five days.

Rhodes also said that a strike may roll across the CSU system. 

Ultimately, should a strike occur, the CFA bargaining team will lead it and decide how it is executed.

“We are committed to doing everything we possibly can to support all of our employees, and we are hopeful that we can quickly come to an agreement and avoid significant negative impacts to our students and our workforce,” said former CSU Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester in a letter to the CFA.

Updates about the bargaining agreement can be found on the CFA and CSU websites.

Editors note: A previous version of this story stated that no classes would be held if a strike occured. If a strike does occur, then CFA affiliated faculty members may choose to participate and cancel classes. However, not all faculty are CFA affiliated or would be participating in the possible strike. 

About the Contributors
Natali Gonzalez
Natali Gonzalez, '23-24 Arts & Culture Editor
Natali Gonzalez is an MA student in Rhetoric and Writing Studies. Originally from Ogden, Utah, she got her BA in English Teaching from Weber State University. While there, she worked as a research assistant examining the role of technology in K-12 education. She also worked for Upward Bound as an instructor and tutor. Now, at SDSU, she looks forward to learning about professional writing alongside increasing her knowledge about teaching practices. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys being outdoors, especially exploring the San Diego beaches and going on hikes, and doing yoga and meditation.
Emily Augustine, '23-24 Graphics Editor