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Dive Brief:

  • California State University faculty plan to stage one-day strikes next month should they not reach a contract agreement with the U.S.’s largest public four-year higher ed system.
  • California Faculty Association members on four Cal State campuses — Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State LA, San Francisco State and Sacramento State — each intend to strike on a different day in December. For instance, Cal Poly Pomona’s faculty will strike Dec. 4 while San Francisco State’s will do so Dec. 5, the union said Thursday.
  • Contract negotiations have stalled on key matters like pay and parental leave. The Cal State system continues to be hopeful it will reach a tentative agreement with the union, spokesperson Amy Bentley-Smith said in an emailed statement Friday. The system has developed contingencies to minimize strike-induced disruptions and only some classes may be canceled during the walkouts, Bentley-Smith said.

Dive Insight:

A potential strike has been brewing at Cal State for months. 

In August, the union informed the state’s Public Employment Relations Board that it and the system had reached a bargaining impasse, insinuating faculty would strike should it not be resolved.

With little movement on the contract, 95% of the union membership voted last month to authorize a walkout. The faculty association represents about 29,000 Cal State employees.

The union has asked for a 12% salary bump for the current fiscal year. The system rejected this offer, and earlier this month proposed a 15% increase across three years, at 5% per year. The association rejected the 15% increase.

In addition, the system and union remain split on other issues — faculty are seeking gender-inclusive restrooms and lactation rooms in every campus building, which Cal State has said are too expensive to build. 

“CSU management will learn the hard way that faculty are not willing to settle for less than they deserve,” Charles Toombs, the union’s president, said in a statement Thursday. “CSU management will learn what employers around the country are having to learn — employees deserve better pay and working conditions.”

The labor movement in higher education has indeed been pushed into overdrive, with prominent strikes of graduate workers this year at Temple University, in Philadelphia, and the University of Michigan. However, even smaller strikes at Cal State resonate because of the system’s size. It enrolled nearly 458,000 students in fall 2022 and employs roughly 53,000 faculty and staff. 

Cal State has struck contract agreements with many of its other unions. Earlier this month, the system’s trustee board approved tentative deals with the California State University Employees Union, Academic Professionals of California, International Union of Operating Engineers, Statewide University Police Association, and United Auto Workers.


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