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Cal State Prepares as Historically Large Faculty Strike Looms

The union says strikes would begin April 13 and would continue if an agreement isn’t reached.

California State University system administrators are bracing for what could be the largest academic strike at a four year college in U.S. history.

The university system’s trustees are preparing to keep their 23 campuses open next month despite threats from thousands of unionized faculty members who are demanding a five percent salary raise and threatening to walk out of classes in April, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The dispute began almost a year ago as salary negotiations revealed a gap between what the California Faculty Association felt its members deserve and what the university system says it can afford in its budget.

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Cal State administrators have offered a two percent pay raise, a figure they said is appropriate based on what other employee groups were given and system-wide budget cuts still lingering from the recession. Anything more, administrators warned, would take funding away from academic programs and student enrollment.

Union members, who have said they won’t hold classes or work for stretches in April if no agreement is reached, claim increased state funding in recent years has given the university system the funds necessary for the pay raises. The union says stagnant salaries over the last decade have resulted in most faculty members earning less than $38,000 a year in gross annual income. University administrators dispute that claim.

The strikes would occur April 13 to 15 or April 18 to 19, and could continue if no agreement is reached.

The disagreement is over the salaries of 26,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches.

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At a recent meeting of trustees, administrators said along with keeping campuses open, they will proceed with planned athletic and civic events and students will be expected to attend classes where the professor is present. Other amenities the school provides, like mental health services, will also continue with temporary employees if necessary.

More security officers would also be on campus during the strike. Currently, each campus in the system employs a police department with sworn officers.

The mediator of the salary negotiations will give recommendations to the two sides in a final report later this month.

About the Author

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Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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