About 40 members of the Cal State University faculty union protested administrators’ contract negotiating tactics outside Tuesday's trustees meeting in Long Beach. Members of the board were discussing potential salary freezes for top administrators, and the possibility of closing one of Cal State’s 23 campuses.
California Faculty Association members let their picket signs do the talking. "I don’t want to strike," read the educators' placards, "But I will!"
Union members say they’re frustrated and disappointed after contract talks broke down over the weekend. No new talks are scheduled.
Jonathon Karpf, a member of the union’s bargaining committee, attended two days of negotiations last week between the system chancellor’s office and the union. He says the university wouldn’t budge on reducing class sizes and instructors’ workloads.
"When I began teaching at San Jose State in the late 80s, there were 25 students in my classes," Karpf says. "And now in those same classes there’s 50 or 60 students." According to Karpf, that affects the way he and his colleagues teach students, determine grades and interact with attendees.
University spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp agrees with Karpf that early stages of the talks went well, but that’s about the only consensus the two sides have reached.
"We’re not really understanding why they walked out," Uhlenkamp claims, adding that the union expects Cal State to pay too much for the Faculty Association president to organize instead of teach.
The union already covers a portion of the president’s costs, but the university wants it to contribute more.
CFA spokeswoman Alice Sunshine says that because university representatives would not take action on demands like class sizes and academic freedom there appeared no point in continuing the talks.
Both sides say they're disappointed that an agreement could not be reached.