New Cal State contract swindles faculty

Aug. 1, 2012

By John Hrabe

Every good protest has a catchy rallying cry. A simple memorable phrase that summarizes the movement’s agenda. The Vietnam War: “Hey-hey! Ho-ho! LBJ has got to go!” The Women’s Rights Movement: “What do we want? Equal Rights! When do we want it? Now!”

Over the past year, students, faculty and staff have organized protests and rallies at California State University campuses, as the country’s largest higher education system copes with annual tuition increases and budget cuts.  The California Faculty Association announced on Tuesday that, after all the protests, it finally had reached a tentative contract agreement with trustees. And the rallying cry is clear:

“What do we want?” 

* “Salary for 12-month department chairs on sabbatical shall be based on a 12-month — not academic year — salary schedule.”

* “The age of dependents eligible for fee waiver will increase from ‘up to 23 years of age’ to ‘up to 25 years of age.’”

That’s not a parody, but two exact quotes from the faculty association’s fact sheet on the deal that could end the faculty’s holdout. Have they really been holding out for revised sabbatical pay schedules and an increased age for dependent tuition waivers?

The faculty association’s fact sheet confirms how badly they were beaten by trustees. In fact, faculty members only played defense. The first 19 bullet points contain some variation of the phrases: “stopped management’s attempt to,” “defeated CSU administration’s legislative effort to,” and “beat back a chancellor proposal to.” Another CFA victory brought Cal State “up to date with state law to prohibit discrimination against faculty.”

The deal only goes into effect “upon ratification by CFA members and the CSU Board of Trustees.” CFA members can and should veto the agreement. They’re the only group with any leverage over trustees and could use their contract negotiations to change the corruption at Cal State.

Cal State Administrators Immune from Austerity Measures

Cal State Trustees have been arrogant. Top administrators continue to be dismissive of student and faculty concerns. And CSU presidents have been entirely immune from any budget cuts.  Since 2008, student fees have nearly doubled.  Faculty members have matched student sacrifices by foregoing pay raises and taking furlough days. Over that same time, there’s been no end to Cal State’s administrative excess. Don’t forget that these figures are just the president’s base pay.

* Elliot Hirshman, the president of San Diego State University, has received an annual salary bump of $154,500. He made $267,000 per year at the University of Maryland, but now makes $421,500 at San Diego.

* San Jose State University’s Mohammad Qayoumi takes home 38 percent more per year now that he moved over from the Cal State East Bay campus. He earned $237,072 per year at East Bay and earns $328,200 at San Jose.

* Dianne F. Harrison, the new president of Cal State Northridge, has increased her salary from $270,315 to $324,500 per year, a 20 percent raise over her previous base salary at the Monterey Bay campus.

* Mildred Garcia, Fullerton’s new president, also scored a 10 percent pay raise by changing campuses. She now earns $324,500 annually, a 10 percent raise over her previous post.

* Leroy Morishita, the new president at CSU East Bay, receives $303,660 per year, a 10 percent increase from his salary as the interim campus president.

* Leslie Wong, the new president of San Francisco State University, earns $123,000 more than he did at Northern Michigan University. His salary increased from $201,995 to $325,000 per year.

Enough Money for Pay Raises for Top Managers

Cal State presidents have shared the wealth with their top managers.  According to an analysis of payroll data, Cal State presidents awarded 486 pay raises to top managers from 2008-10. Cal State Chancellor Charles Reed handed out another 80 pay raises to his chosen bureaucratic elite.  Those figures excluded promotions for staff that have internally changed positions.

“On an annualized basis, these discretionary raises added $6.5 million to the cost to run the CSU system,” the study’s authors concluded. You’d expect the California Faculty Association to highlight such inequitable measures in their negotiations, especially given that they authored the report.

Cal State has repeatedly defended the pay raises as necessary to retain and recruit the best talent. “We need to be able to recruit and retain the best and the brightest individuals,” said Mike Uhlenkamp spokesman for the Cal State chancellor’s office. Apparently, that logic only applies to presidents and not faculty members.

“Fair Agreement in Hard Times”

“It’s a fair agreement in the context of hard times,” said Lillian Taiz, the president of the California Faculty Association. “We are disappointed we were not able to get a raise, but that wasn’t in the cards. It was a tough pill to swallow, I won’t kid you.” Taiz is right. Given the current budget situation, it’s completely unreasonable for faculty to secure higher pay or increased benefits. However, Cal State faculty could have achieved something worth more than money: respect.

Faculty Association Should Demand Faculty Salaries Be Tied to Administrators’

The California Faculty Association should reject the current contract and demand just one additional contract provision: All salaries, including administrators, campus presidents and top managers, shall be linked to the faculty’s pay and benefits. To keep trustees honest, the policy should be applied to all pay, including bonuses paid out by nonprofit auxiliary foundations.

With just this one demand, CFA members could fix Cal State’s attitude problem. No more presidential pay raises. Faculty members could force a new policy of shared sacrifice and tie administrators’ success to their own.  Everyone at Cal State would be on the same page and face the system’s upcoming challenges together.

Faculty members don’t teach for the money. They do it because they love teaching. But, more and more, faculty are finding it hard to teach for a university system that creates one set of rules for administrators and another for faculty members. It’s especially disrespectful given that faculty are the only ones in the classroom.

Shared Sacrifice! Equal Austerity! Not bad slogans for the next Cal State protest.

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