LOS ANGELES (AP) — California State University has reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract with its faculty that largely preserves current contract terms and calls for no salary raises, the university and faculty union said Tuesday.
“It’s a fair agreement in the context of hard times,” said Lillian Taiz, who heads the California Faculty Association, which represents 23,000 professors, lecturers, and other professional employees. “We are disappointed we were not able to get a raise, but that wasn’t in the cards. It was a tough pill to swallow, I won’t kid you.”
The university agreed to possibly reopen salary talks for 2012-13 and 2013-14. Benefits were maintained at the current level.
Both sides said the agreement will allow them to put to rest more than two years of contentious negotiations and work together to push for more revenue for the 23-campus system that has seen $750 million in state funding cuts over the past four years.
The system is one of the largest public university systems in the nation with 400,000 students.
“In this extremely challenging budget climate, we are pleased to come to an agreement with the CFA that will allow both parties to move forward and focus on the state’s reinvestment in higher education,” said John Swarbrick, associate vice chancellor for labor relations.
The improvements in the contract were modest. Much of the union’s battle was to preserve items that the university sought to take away, Taiz said.
The university agreed to allow faculty input in determining appropriate class sizes, but the union did not win a guarantee of academic freedom.
“The university was strangely adamant against including that in the contract,” she said. “It’s not the end of that issue.”
The union pushed back on numerous issues, including moving more classes into extension programs and preserving three-year appointments for lecturers, who comprise 55 percent of the faculty.
The union agreed to use its dues to cover more of the cost of faculty members who do union work on university time.
The last contract expired two years ago. Talks had broken down several times, with the faculty voting in May to authorize strikes to take place this fall.
The agreement must be ratified by union members during a voting period scheduled for the last two weeks of August, as well as the board of trustees. The board’s next meeting is slated for September.
Faculty members have not had a raise for the past five years after the university failed to fulfill salary commitments in the last contract. Taiz said that issue has been set aside in the interest of collaborating with the university to push for more state funding.
“It’s simply not something we could make happen,” she said.