-Calling off the Strike After a couple of hours was a Mistake, says many
By Jacqueline Flores

On January 22, 2024, a statewide campus strike regarding unfair wages, labor load and parental leave began and ended in the first 24 hours, when the California Faculty Association (CFA) accepted a Tentative Agreement from the California State University (CSU), leaving faculty and staff with mixed feelings. 

CFA and faculty began their fight in July of last year, when the union got together to discuss certain issues such as unfair pay and workload. In the end, they formed a list of demands for CSU. This list included; a general salary increase of 12% for faculty, an extension on parental leave (6 weeks to 16 weeks) and access to gender neutral bathrooms and lactation rooms. 

After months of negotiations, CSU came back with an unsatisfactory deal of a salary increase of 5% not retroactive. CFA sprung to action stating that “all good faith efforts have been exhausted” and called for a vote on a strike. 95% of voting members voted in favor of the strike. 

The strike was to last for a week, the first week of spring semester. Many prepared to have classes canceled, until the night of January 22, less than 24 hours since the strike had started, emails were sent statewide. A tentative agreement was made between the CFA and CSU. 

But the official negotiation left many of the faculty scratching their heads. 

The deal was not necessarily what they were looking for. CSU and CFA settled on a 5% salary retroactive to July of 2023 and another 5% salary increase in July of 2024, but only depending if CSU’s budget is not cut. They also received an increase in parental leave by four weeks, an alternative offer to their demand of a 10 week increase. 

“My initial reaction was disappointment.”  Professor and Faculty Chair Matthew Poole shares,

“I was worried about the contingent part of the second 5% step increase in salaries (this is contingent on the state not cutting baseline funding for the CSU next year). It introduces a risk, which doesn’t seem fair.” 

The contingent salary increase was just one of the many problems faculty members were grappling with. Many were confused as to why CFA agreed to a deal so quickly and others were quick to notice that the offer was worse than the past offer made by CSU.

Users on X were quick to flood the official account of CFA (@CFA_United) with questions, concerns and outrage. 

User @robindodds8 can be found under many of their posts, expressing their distraught on the agreement. “Don’t celebrate-this deal is a joke and will get voted down” is just one of their many replies to users who are commemorating this deal. In a similar way, many shared their idea to vote no on the tentative agreement.

User @jeremyL34071482 expresses in a post on X, “We are voting NO to the tentative agreement. TBH, those are BS benefits, marginally better, actually worse from some perspectives. You should go back to the negotiation table to represent members truly, or we quit and form our own union as @CFA_United does NOT represent faculty.”

Many are also convinced that calling for a strike was pointless considering their new offer. 

“Why did I walk the picket lines all day just for CFA to cave? What was the point? What did I strike for? It seems all I won was a day spent walking around in the rain eating a soggy sandwich.” user @ashaneintheass states in a post. 

But not everyone is opposing the terms of this negotiation and consider this a small win. 

Professor Poole states, “Overall, this is a win for faculty and students. The Chancellor’s Office negotiating team refused to continue the negotiations in December and January. That was a disgrace. That we collectively moved the needle, and moved it so far is really good.”

He plans on voting yes, and he may not be the only one. CFA is currently taking action in this controversy, assuring the public that they made the decision for the best possible outcome. 

In a statement posted on their official website, addressing faculty and staff, they state, “Although we did not get everything we wanted, the meaningful gains in this contract reflect how far we’ve come as an organizing union committed to anti-racism and social justice. There is no doubt that the work continues, and that more progress is needed.”

CFA also discusses possible outcomes in voting ‘yes or no’. They warn that voting ‘no’ can return them to  negotiating, a negotiation CSU is not obligated to come back to. 

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