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

Striking faculty deserve students’ continued support

A day of inconvenience helped set up a better contract for faculty, and the work is not done yet
Natali Gonzalez
Two faculty members participate in the CFA strike at San Diego State University on January 22, 2024

Months after the nearly 150-day Hollywood strike was finally resolved, another notable group made waves on the picket lines in California.

On Jan. 22, many classes across 23 California State Universities, including those at San Diego State University, were canceled as California Faculty Association (CFA) went on strike for better pay and work conditions. In addition, trade workers and CSU averted a strike by reaching a deal prior to Monday.

Although the strike lasted one day before a tentative agreement was reached, faculty members at SDSU braved the rain to advocate for their treatment in the education system. 

While these strikes disrupted the beginning of a new semester and may have caused confusion among students, they were for a good cause. And students should continue to support teachers’ unions. 

Among the union’s requests, which represents 29,000 faculty members, included a 12% increase in pay, smaller class sizes, expanded counseling services for students, more gender-neutral restrooms and increased parental leave.

CSU and CFA settled on a previously proposed 5% raise in pay, in addition to a 5% increase retroactive to the 2023 academic year. CSU argued this is already stretching their budget, so there still is a stipulation in the agreement.

Many of these provisions, some of which remain unresolved, would surely help faculty. But they can be just as beneficial for students. 

More reasonable counselor-to-student ratios make it easier for young people to access mental health services. Smaller class sizes allow for improved engagement between students and faculty. And increased base pay can encourage more students to pursue a career in teaching. 

In addition, it’s not hard to imagine that improved working conditions for teachers will lead to a better university experience for students. 

While some of CFA’s demands weren’t granted, striking moved the needle on each of these pertinent issues. The agreement also includes a raise on the salary floor for lower-paid faculty, a four-week increase in parental leave and a promise of improved access to restrooms and lactation spaces.

This comes at a difficult time in public education. Following the onset of the pandemic, teachers have had to adjust to virtual learning and shortly thereafter, return to synchronous teaching. After all, students weren’t the only ones who struggled to remember when to mute and unmute on Zoom or re-learn how to talk to other people in a post-lockdown world.

The burden of inflation and California’s exorbitant cost of living, particularly in San Diego, creates an undesirable scenario for professors who aren’t paid a comfortable wage. 

While students grapple with a spike in tuition and professors continue to fight for better conditions, CSU has opened their pockets for their executives.

CSU Chancellor Mildred García receives a yearly salary of $795,000, including an additional $96,000 for housing and $80,000 in deferred payment (as if the base salary wasn’t enough). That’s a larger figure than Gov. Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Attorney General Rob Bonta’s salaries combined

University executives are receiving substantial paydays too.

CalMatters reported in 2023 that while full-time CSU lecturers received a 22% raise over the span of 15 years, base pay of Cal State presidents rose by an eye-catching average of 43%. SDSU saw the starkest increase, as presidents received a 78% increase in salary from 2007 to 2022 — the largest figure in the state.

The Office of the Chancellor said in a previous statement that “It is the intent of the Board of Trustees to compensate all CSU employees in a manner that is fair, reasonable, competitive and fiscally prudent in respect to system budget and state funding.”

Their actions certainly do not reflect their alleged intention. And the current contract is just a step in the larger fight for fair pay. 

Reallocating or stagnating the salary of executives and leaders in CSU is not a surefire budgetary solution, nor will it lead to faculty members receiving their desired 12% raise. But it shows that CSU is more focused on taking care of their staff rather than teachers. And the schools simply cannot function without them.

Unionization and striking is a sign of strength from the faculty who allow universities to function. Without teachers, schools are just buildings with a collection of chairs and desks that have gum under them. A degree is just a piece of paper with no symbolic weight behind it. 

Professors and faculty members breathe life into university settings. And they deserve to advocate for themselves, even if it means canceling a few classes.

In last year’s Hollywood strikes, the actors and writers reached an “exceptional” deal after months of protests. This strike only lasted a day, but it still matters.

There will be more labor disputes and negotiations in the future, and students should continue to support the fight for the very people who make their college experience possible — even if it disrupts the status quo.

About the Contributors
Noah Lyons, '23-24 Opinion Editor
Noah Lyons (he/him) is a Journalism major and transfer student from Irvine, California. Ever since he was young, he loved to tell stories and dive deep into his favorite subjects — sports, music, current events, and film. He joined the Daily Aztec in 2022, and has since covered the Wonderfront and Rolling Loud music festivals, attended advanced movie screenings and interviewed several musicians. When he isn't doing homework until midnight or writing articles, you can expect to see Noah searching for the best California burritos that San Diego has to offer or walking around campus listening to Bleachers and Paramore.
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.