CSU faculty strike looms as contract negotiations remain $70M apart

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- After months of protests by Cal State University faculty, the threats to strike are only getting louder.

Tuesday was the union's last chance to fire off a direct message to the Board of Trustees before the April 13 strike deadline.

"Because of your greedy allocation of money, some of our best lecturers I've had have had to leave the CSU system," student Courtney Yamigawa said.

"This will be the largest strike in higher education in the history of the United States," declared Jennifer Eagan, President of the California Faculty Association.

Across 23 CSU campuses, administrators are mapping out plans to minimize disruption, demanding professors give students homework to cover a five day walk-out.

"So they will be meeting with their meeting groups, they will be doing their readings, they will be doing other things that don't necessarily need in-class instruction," Cal State University Director of Public Affairs Toni Molle said.

The two sides are $70 million dollars apart. CSU has approved a 2 percent raise while the teachers have demanded 5 percent. The total cost to CSU could be $110 million to $140 million, requiring cuts in other areas.

"It would come from infrastructure, technology upgrades, student services," Molle said, giving a partial list.

The union said their members' average salary is $46,000 a year, with professors scrambling to classes on multiple campuses.

"I know too many lecturers who are living in their cars. I know too many lecturers who are unable to live within two hours from where they teach," said Johnathan Karpf with the California Faculty Association.

At this point, bargaining is at a halt during a fact-finding period. A neutral party is investigating the numbers claimed by both sides.

Findings will be reported to the trustees in early April.

While opposing sides stake out their positions, CSU administrators said the strike talk is diverting attention from education. They urged faculty to lobby the legislature to obtain adequate funding.
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