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Cal State Faculty (Some 29K Lecturers, Coaches And More) Overwhelmingly Approved A New Contract. Here's What's In It

Two people, one with short black hair and one with long red har, wear red shirts that say "rights" and "respect." They are masked. The person with short hair is holding up a sign that says "raise."
In Nov. 2021, CFA members and supporters rallied outside the CSU Trustees meeting. Dorothy Chen Maynard and Nena Tórrez, both professors at CSU San Bernardino, participated in the event.
(Courtesy of CFA )
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The California Faculty Association, which represents 29,000 California State University lecturers, non-tenured professors, counselors, librarians and coaches, announced Thursday that its members have voted overwhelmingly to accept the terms of a new contract.

“We have won something for everyone,” said Charles Toombs, a professor at San Diego State who serves as CFA president and was part of the bargaining team.

The union did not disclose how many members from the Cal State system's 23 campuses voted. However, Toombs said the CFA had the “highest voter turnout of the past decade” and that, among those who cast a vote, 95% voted to ratify the contract.

The ratification comes after nearly two years of negotiations, including an impasse between CFA leaders and CSU management last fall. At the time, said the union, CFA and management had met 23 times.

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What Are The Gains?

All faculty will receive a one-time $3,500 bonus “to recognize the immense work of shifting the entire curriculum to a virtual modality during the pandemic,” said CFA Vice President Kevin Wehr, a Sacramento State professor who’s been with CSU for nearly two decades.

All faculty will also receive a 4% retroactive raise for last year, and another 4% for this year contingent on the state budget allocation, he added. "Many faculty, especially the lowest paid, will receive between 14% and 20% total compensation increase over the life of this contract," Wehr said.

In addition to pay raises, CFA leaders celebrated other gains, including a provision on “cultural taxation” in the new contract.

The term, CFA Associate Vice President Sharon Elise explained, refers to the “extra work” faculty members whose identities align with underrepresented students take on “to advance social justice.” That work includes advising, mentoring and participating in hiring and curriculum committees “to help diversify the academy and its programming.”

“All of this uncompensated work,” said Elise, a professor at CSU San Marcos and member of the bargaining team, “takes time that other faculty use to advance their careers.” Funding for this work, she added, is expanded in the new contract.

Other contract wins include:

  • the explicit right to address alleged bias in student evaluations;
  • a work group to study more ways the CSU can support working parents, including improved parental leave;
  • a task force made up of CSU faculty, staff, unions, students and other stakeholders to look at alternatives to police on campuses; and
  • the inclusion of caste to the list of categories protected from discrimination, reinforcing a new Cal State policy added in January.
A woman and a man, both clad in red with red masks that say "rights, respect, justice," stand outside a building. The woman holds a sign that reads "2% is too tiny."
CFA Associate Vice President Sharon Elise and CFA President Charles Toombs at the Nov. 2021 rally.
( Courtesy of CFA )

The deal between the CSU and the CFA comes just a few months after the University of California system averted a strike by reaching an agreement with the union representing non-tenured professors.

“We will ensure that the contract is adhered to, that our wins are built upon,” CFA Associate Vice President Margarita Berta-Ávila said at a press conference announcing the ratification. “Yes, it is about the present, but it's also about the rights, the respect and the justice of future generations of faculty, students and families.”

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