Fact-Finder Rules for CFA; Strike Looms

BY HANK REICHMAN

Things just got a lot more difficult for California State University management and the system’s lugubrious Chancellor Tim White.  For months the California Faculty Association (CFA), an AAUP affiliate representing 26,000 faculty members in the 23-campus system, has been saying that CSU teachers are long overdue and highly deserving of a 5% salary increase and that the CSU can well afford to pay it.  Now that view has been endorsed by an independent fact-finder, whose report, released today, brings to a close the statutorily mandated collective bargaining process and permits the union to go on strike to achieve its goals.  A one-week strike is currently set for April 13-15 and April 18-19.

Fact-finder Bonnie Castrey, an arbitrator, mediator, and fact-finder based in Southern California, concluded that a “substantial GSI as well as SSI’s [for the faculty] … is in the interest of students, who need caring faculty, and certainly in the public interest as our country needs a well-educated population.”

The major recommendations in the fact-finder’s report are:

 

  1. Increase faculty compensation with a General Salary Increase of 5%.
  2. Provide Service Step Increases to the approximately 43% of faculty eligible.
  3. Continue to study the faculty salary issue. Develop a list, agreeable to both sides, of comparable universities that award bachelor’s and master’s degrees and do a comparison using available AAUP data and including a cost-of-living comparison.
  4. Develop a joint strategy and documentation to go to the California Legislature and the Governor to seek the needed state funding for the CSU budget.

To implement these recommendations, the report says, “monies should be reallocated from other projects” and raises implemented in a way that is manageable for the CSU system.

“The fact-finder’s report unambiguously supports the union’s bargaining proposal of a 5% pay raise for all CSU faculty and an SSI. A neutral, outside voice has confirmed that these raises are affordable, reasonable, justified, and necessary,” said CFA President Jennifer Eagan, who teaches philosophy and public administration at CSU, East Bay.

Although such reports generally reflect the conclusions of and are written by the independent fact-finder, she serves as impartial chair of a three-member panel, which includes one representative each from the administration and the union.  Brad Wells, Associate Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance, represented CSU management.  Kevin Wehr, Chair of the CFA bargaining team and a professor at CSU, Sacramento, represented the union.

With respect to Service Step Increases (SSI), the panel found:

Service Salary Increases represent movement of 2.65%, or less, up to the SSI maximum, within the salary range of the faculty member. When negotiated, they are paid on a faculty member’s anniversary date, unless negotiated otherwise.

No SSI’s have been paid to faculty members who are eligible and would have become eligible since the 2007-2008 fiscal year. They were also paid in the 2006-07 fiscal year, but only those two fiscal years in a decade, since the 2004-05 fiscal year. Hence, approximately 43% of members in the bargaining unit are eligible for an SSI of 2.65% or less. . . .

CFA calculated the cost of such SSI’s as approximately $16 million for the 2015-16 academic year.  CSU management calculated the cost at about $3.4 million more.  The fact-finder concluded that “the CSU calculation is more likely than not inflated by three million or more dollars and credits the CFA calculation.”

With respect to a General Salary Increase, the fact-finder considered a survey based on AAUP data of faculty salaries at allegedly comparable institutions submitted by CSU management:

In that survey analysis, with different criteria, including the establishment of three tiers of CSU schools low, medium and high enrollment as compared to similar sized schools who reported salaries to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the CSU chose comparison schools based on enrollment, total budget, the percent of Pell Grant eligible students, the six year graduation rate and all research funding. As the CFA points out, the cost of living in the comparator universities and colleges was not considered. Further, they argue that the states in the south and mid-west have lower costs than any portion of California.

Even the CSU data show that in the high enrollment tier, for CSU at Fullerton, Long Beach, Northridge, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose; the Assistant Professors lag by 4.2%, Associates lag by 6.7% and Full Professors lag by 17.7%. These are all higher cost of living areas as well, so the lag may be even greater if the COLA is properly applied .

The mid-level enrollment tier comprised of Chico, Dominguez Hills, East Bay, Fresno, Los Angeles, Pomona, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, the Assistant Professors lead by 4.1%, the Associate Professors lead by 0.5% and Professors lag by 6.3%. These areas may have lower enrollment, however, they are not housed in areas comparable to the southeast, Texas etc.

In the lower enrollment tier CSU Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Humboldt, Monterey Bay, San Marcos, Sonoma and Stanislaus, the Assistant Professors lead by 12.1%; the Associate Professors lead by 3.0% and the Full Professors lag by 2.6%. Again with no COLA applied, and compared to universities in Texas, Florida and Washington, one has to question the comparability results. The results still show significant lags in salary particularly at the full professor level and a few leads at the Assistant and Associate level.

CFA shows that the cost of the median rent and median home value is highest in California which places a high of 48, with the next closest state, Oregon at 44, and the lowest states at 2 and 3 are Idaho and Indiana. The majority of comparison states have low to medium costs of living, with 13 of the 20 states ranking at 37 or below

On this basis the report concludes:

The recession severely impacted the faculty at CSU and while some progress has been made to restore the loss of competitive salaries with negotiated targeted increases, the faculty are still suffering from structural salary issues as well as the lack of substantial general salary increases in percentages in order to address the lack of progress in salary adjustments for all faculty. During the most challenging economic times, the faculty agreed to forego negotiated increases and also endured a 10% cut in salary, due to furloughs.  A substantial GSI as well as SSI’s to the 43% of faculty who have not had them, along with the increases of the past year and targeted efforts is in the interest of students, who need caring faculty and certainly in the public interest as our country needs a well educated population.  The percentage GSI and SSI would also help to increase the salary spread and address the needs of long term employees, who are experiencing the greatest salary lag.

To fund these increases the fact-finder recommends that “monies should be reallocated from other projects.”  No doubt acknowledging that some allocated monies for the current fiscal year have already been spent, she also suggests that increases could be “spread over the year to minimize the impact in year two, which would obviously be the full 5% going forward.”  In a dissenting response, CSU management reiterated its contention that no resources are available for reallocation and bizarrely contended — despite its own dissent — that the report “confirms that the University does not have the funds to pay CFA demands.”  In its concurrence, CFA responded to this contention:

The March 26, 2016 “dissent” from CSU management claims to agree with the factfinder in some regards, and disagree in some regards. The Employer’s dissent statement reads as a public relations piece, claiming victory and validation in ways that do not conform to reality and misstates the facts contained in the report as well as the report’s findings and recommendations.  Contrary to management’s statement of dissent, the report does not say the CSU does not have the funds to pay the 5% and SSI; after 3 days of evidence, the factfinder heard no legitimate evidence that the CSU could not afford the raises.  While CSU management had every opportunity to prove an inability to pay during three days of hearings, the facts – the audited financial statements and other budget documents – would not support their argument. Moreover, management had the opportunity to rebut documentary and expert testimony presented by CFA, yet failed to do so.

The ball is now in CSU Chancellor White’s court.  He and the board of trustees he serves can respect the statutory process and the virtually total endorsement of the CFA position by the fact-finder or they can face the determination of their faculty, now supported by and independent ruling as well as by growing numbers of legislators and no doubt students, alumni, and the general public.  The CSU Board of Trustees has announced a closed-door meeting of its collective bargaining committee for April 4.  One can hope that sanity will prevail at that session, but it is increasingly likely that April 13 will see the start of the largest walkout by higher ed faculty in U.S. history.

CSU faculty who haven’t yet pledged to honor the walkout may click here to commit to strike.  Supporters may consider letting Chancellor White know how you feel.

For more go to http://www.calfac.org/item/factfinding-report-goes-public

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