The union that represents California State University faculty has staged a one day strike today at two campuses, one in Southern California, the other in the Bay Area. The union's trying to pressure the university to give faculty a one quarter of one percent pay raise.
The California Faculty Association, which represents about 23,000 professors, lecturers, coaches, counselors and librarians, authorized the one-day strike at the East Bay and Dominguez Hills campuses.
Protesters began arriving early in the day at the Dominguez Hills campus in Carson, wearing red T-shirts bearing the words "enough is enough" and carrying picket signs.
Protesters carried a 10-foot-tall puppet bearing a likeness of CSU Chancellor Charles Reed with a grimace on his face and two fistfuls of cash.
Physics professor Jim Hill is one of about a dozen people protesting at the northwest corner of campus.
Hill said the strike is not just about the pay raise.
"It's mainly about the quality of education and the quality of our system," Hill said.
He said the system as a whole has struggled with several issues throughout the years, including a lack of pay raises and the constant hiking of tuition and fees.
"The leadership of this institution is using faculty, students and staff as if they were ATMs," said Lillian Taiz, a professor of history at Dominguez Hills and president of the faculty association. "They turn to us to bail out the university."
CSU administrators say the pay raise faculty is asking for would amount to $20 million and the university can't afford it.
The CSU system, which has more than 400,000 students, lost $650 million in state support this year and expects to lose another $100 million because of a projected shortfall in state revenue.
CSU Chancellor Charles Reed has said paying the faculty raises would mean offering fewer classes for students while the system is cutting its budget by $750 million.
Today's strike was the first faculty walkout in the history of the 23-campus system. The protest comes one day after Cal State trustees approved a $500 tuition increase in anticipation of budget cuts.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.