Over 1,000 California State University (CSU) faculty members, students and sympathizers gathered and marched through the streets of Long Beach to Chancellor Timothy White’s office on Nov. 17 to demonstrate their displeasure with the proposed 2 percent salary bump.
On the heels of a 94 percent “yes” vote on the strike authorization, the California Faculty Association (CFA) along with their supporters took their “Fight for Five” campaign to the chancellor’s office during the CSU Board of Trustees’ meeting.
Representatives of all 23 CSU campuses were present at the rally, all wearing their “We don’t want to strike but we will” red t-shirts in what Dr. Marcia Marx, San Bernardino CFA chapter president, described as a “sea of red.”
Over 75 students and faculty from CSUSB attended the rally.
The rally included student performances, chanting and several speakers who led the crowd in chants as the office staff looked on from their windows overhead.
Vice President of Lecturers and CSUSB Professor Leslie Bryan was among the speakers.
Bryan spoke about her many years in the CSU system and how the CSU faculty tends to have more responsibilities than other institutions.
Bryan also commented on the recent visit White paid to CSUSB.
“He actually said we all need to live within our means,” Bryan said about White’s speech. “Whose means are we talking about?”
Art Pulaski, Chief Officer and Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, expressed support and solidarity with the CFA.
“If worse comes to worst, if you have to put down your books and pencils, know that we [California Labor Federation] stand with you,” Pulaski said.
Pulaski then led the crowd in chanting “all in to win” before finishing his speech with, “give them hell.”
Dr. Kevin Wehr, CFA capitol chapter president, explained the purpose of the rally and the intention of those participating.
“If today has shown us anything it is that we have the power, if necessary, to shut down the system,” Wehr said.
In a letter to White, Wehr stated, “how can we expect them [faculty] to inspire students to achieve the American Dream when they can’t even attain it for themselves?”
Wehr, along with most of the speakers, agreed that a strike would not be in the best interest of the students.
They did, however, assert that it is within their rights to strike.
Near the end of the rally, protesters formed what they referred to as a “preview picket line” outside of the chancellor’s office in order to demonstrate what a strike would look like.
Dr. Mary Texeira, professor of sociology at CSUSB, brought over 20 students from CSUSB to attend the event. Texeira said that her students were the most enthusiastic of the protesters.
“If the CSU does not meet our demands of 5 percent, then [the CFA will] strike,” Texeira said. “And I think we’re all prepared to do that.”
Speaker Tony Atkins, who is a CSU trustee, also spoke to protesters.
Atkins expressed her solidarity along with suggesting that instead of striking if the CFA’s demands aren’t met, they should take their fight to the government and “hold the governor accountable.”
In a press release, Atkins stated, “there is still time to fix things, and I urge the CSU administration to go back to the bargaining table and find a reasonable resolution that properly values faculty and addresses the fact that faculty need to be better paid.”