Cal State reaches tentative agreement with employee union


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Dive Brief:

  • The California State University system has reached a tentative three-year agreement with a union representing roughly 16,000 of its employees, the system said Thursday — marking the third labor deal it’s announced in as many weeks. 
  • Cal State has been in salary negotiations since February with the California State University Employees Union, which represents a variety of university positions, ranging from custodians to technology support staff. 
  • The deal is backdated to the beginning of July. It offers a 10% raise over the first two years and would also establish a salary step structure in the third year, allowing employees to earn 2% salary increases between each step.

Dive Insight:

The CSU system also recently announced tentative agreements with two additional employee unions — one representing university police and another representing academic student workers. Together, they collectively represent more than 10,300 employees. 

All three deals must be ratified by their respective union members, according to a Thursday announcement. If approved, the system’s board of trustees will vote on the agreements in early November.

The deal with the union representing university police lasts three years, while the agreement with student workers lasts two years. Both include 5% annual pay bumps. 

Cal State has faced a difficult year as it tries to course-correct a looming $1.5 billion deficit and reach consensus with multiple employee unions.

Last month, its board of trustees approved a series of tuition hikes meant to curb the worst of the shortfall, leading to backlash from students and faculty. System officials said the increased revenue would still fall $322 million short of campus needs if employees received 5% pay bumps.

The 23-campus public system enrolled nearly 458,000 students in fall 2022. 

The tentative agreement with CSUEU stipulates the salary increases in the second and third years are contingent on the system receiving full state funding.

But CSUEU said Thursday that if another union secures more than a 5% increase for fiscal years 2023 and 2024, the group has the option to return to the negotiating table to push for more sizable raises for its members.

Likewise, the agreement with the union representing police officers has a similar clause that would kick in if another bargaining unit secures more than a 6.75% general salary increase for fiscal year 2024. 

Those clauses could bear fruit in the near future.

Another union representing Cal State employees, the California Faculty Association, is set to vote on a potential strike after the pair hit a bargaining impasse in August.

The state’s Public Employment Relations Board appointed a mediator for the two parties, though they could not come to a resolution. CSU and the California Faculty Association met Monday, but union officials don’t appear to be optimistic about reaching an agreement.

“CSU management has continuously refused to take seriously the profound negative impacts on students and faculty that persist because of their entrenchment in the status quo,” the California Faculty Association said Thursday, criticizing, among other things, the system’s pay, parental leave policies and practice of increasing employees’ workload. 

The union — which represents 29,000 Cal State employees, including professors, librarians and other teaching roles — has been pushing for, in part, a 12% general salary increase, a semester of paid parental leave and at least one gender-inclusive restroom and lactation space in each building. The union says Cal State has offered a 5% increase and 30 days of parental leave, and has said the current number of facilities are sufficient.

The first vote in the strike authorization process is set to run between Oct. 21 and 27.

“A ‘Yes’ vote will send a powerful signal to management that we are prepared to withhold our labor to get the contract we deserve,” the California Faculty Association said. “This isn’t to say that a strike is inevitable, though it is a call to strike if we cannot reach a resolution.”


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