As strike looms, key report calls for higher pay for CSU faculty

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- As the deadline nears for a possible five-day strike over pay raises, union faculty members at California State University campuses are celebrating the results of a new report.

An independent fact-finder released Monday says the CSU should give the faculty members the pay raises they've requested.

"We are just walking on cloud nine," said Douglas Domingo-Foraste, president of the California Faculty Association chapter at Cal State Long Beach. "She said everything we hoped she would say: that they have the money, that they need to give us the 5 percent."

Following the report, administration officials said the university does not have an additional $70 million to spend on pay this year. They also rejected a suggestion in the report to divert money from other programs or delay new projects.

"If I had the money, I would pay it but I don't have it, and it would be irresponsible for me to make a permanent commitment to payroll when I don't have the ability to pay it year in and out," CSU Chancellor Timothy White said.

The faculty association is seeking a 5 percent salary increase for 2015-16, as well as other salary adjustments. The university is offering 2 percent raises.

White acknowledges that faculty members are underpaid but says diverting money in the budget to increase salaries would hurt students.

"Our current students would be slowed down in their progress to earning their degree because there'd be fewer courses, fewer advisers, fewer academic support systems in place," White said.

The California Faculty Association disagrees.

"Like your own budget, sometimes you're going to have to take money out of that new car budget and put it toward food, and that's what the chancellor is refusing to do," Domingo-Foraste said.

CSU's 23 campuses would remain open during the five-day strike, and some students say they're prepared to support their professors.

"They deserve an increase. I think it benefits us all, even as students, because it means that our professors are making what they deserve and are happier, and hopefully professing in a more productive way," CSULB student Kristen Skjonsby said.

A five-day strike scheduled for April 13-15 and 18-19 would be by far the system's largest walkout since professors and instructors won collective bargaining rights in the early 1980s.

"This is an emergency, and the faculty are in survival mode," California Faculty Association President Jennifer Eagan said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report
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