CSU Faculty Union Organizes Long Beach Rally Against Proposed Budget Cuts

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The union that represents Cal State University faculty staged a large rally at the system's Long Beach campus Wednesday. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports that the event is part of a larger strategy to generate opposition to Governor Schwarzenegger's proposed budget cuts.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Volunteers carrying paper forms on clipboards urged students to fill them out. Rally organizers also positioned nine laptop computers outside the campus bookstore. Online forms were ready for e-mail delivery to the governor and Sacramento lawmakers. Cal State Long Beach freshman Gabrielle O'Leary filled one out. She said she worries about budget cuts proposed for her campus and public schools.

Gabrielle O'Leary: Well I'm a music education major, and so after college I'm intending to be a high school choir teacher, and so by cutting all this money now, what's going to happen, you know, four years, five years, when I get out? Am I going to be able to find a job?

Guzman-Lopez: Minutes later, O'Leary elbowed her way to a nearby lunch tent. The California Faculty Association knows that an army fights on its stomach. The union provided free pizza lunches to everyone who filled out a form. Cal State Long Beach President F. King Alexander was the first to rally the troops. He questioned Governor Schwarzenegger's fiscal priorities.

F. King Alexander: Should we as Californians allow the CSU to be cut 10% when we already know that we are not a state expenditure, but we are the best investment that this state could make on the future of California.

Guzman-Lopez: The Governor has proposed cutting more than $14 billion from next year's budget, because the sluggish economy is limiting state revenues. F. King Alexander said his campus will hurt if the legislature approves Schwarzenegger's budget plans. Cal Sate Long Beach would have to lay off 50 professors and 150 other employees, he says, and the university would cut summer course offerings by more than a third. The campus student body president, Mark Andrews, says that means it'll take more time and money to graduate.

Mark Andrews: I think that's where students are going to get hit the hardest initially. Because, you know, maybe they need one more class to graduate. They're not going to be able to get that class this summer.

Guzman-Lopez: The California Faculty Union is taking the same message next week to CSU campuses in Los Angeles, San Jose, and Bakersfield.