Cal State University faculty may strike in April

Cal State University faculty may go on a five-day strike in April if their union cannot reach a pay raise deal with system administrators, officials announced Monday.

Nearly 26,000 professors, lecturers and librarians represented by the California Faculty Assn. would stop teaching and doing academic work on April 13-15 as well as on April 18 and 19, officials said.

Cal State employees last went on strike in 2011 when employees at the East Bay and Dominguez Hills campuses held one-day strikes. Faculty on all 23 Cal State campuses would participate in the potential April strike, union officials said.  

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There were about 460,000 Cal State students in 2014, according to records.

"We won’t hold classes, we won’t check our email," said union President Jennifer Eagan, a professor at Cal State East Bay in Hayward. "We’re going to be on the picket lines."

The union's board of directors approved the strike dates Friday night. In October, 94% of the union's voting members authorized a strike if no salary deal could be reached.

Cal State officials said they remained committed to reaching a resolution but that campuses would remain open in the event of a strike and any work stoppage would not affect students' ability to graduate or complete their courses.

The California Faculty Assn. and Cal State administrators have been deadlocked since June over salary increases for the 2015-16 academic year. The union has demanded a 5% pay hike while Cal State Chancellor Timothy P. White has offered a 2% increase.

Union members say they are underpaid after going without a raise for five years before getting a 1.34% increase in 2013 and a 1.6% increase in 2014.

"We have not been able to keep up with the cost of living," Eagan said.

More than half of Cal State faculty make less than $38,000 annually in gross earnings, according to the union, although Cal State administrators say those figures are inaccurate.

System administrators say they could not increase enrollment or address other priorities if they gave faculty a 5% increase.

Negotiations between the union and CSU administrators have been ongoing since 2014. An outside mediator is compiling a fact-finding report; the union cannot go on strike until 10 days after the document is issued. 

Union officials said they expect the report to be published before the strike dates.

Eagan said faculty would not necessarily stop working if they did not get a 5% raise.

"But there needs to be progress and they need to come off their 2% offer," she said.   

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2:15 p.m.: This post has been updated with comment from Cal State officials.

This article was originally published at 1:40 p.m.