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CSU Faculty Members Say New Contract Came With Broken Promises

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 rallying for a new contract in Nov. 2021.
( Courtesy of CFA )
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After more than two years of negotiations, members of the California Faculty Association, which represents 29,000 California State University academic employees, voted to accept the terms of a new contract in early February.

Among other agreements, faculty were promised a one-time $3,500 bonus to cover the expense of shifting to online learning during the pandemic, along with a 4% salary increase, retroactive to July 21, 2021.

Pointing to communication from the union’s leadership, members expected to see the pay raise and one-time bonus as early as March 1. But at Cal State Dominguez Hills, several faculty members haven’t received their bonuses. Many of them also say their back pay is incomplete.

“Faculty are really concerned,” said Sarah Lacy, an associate professor of anthropology and co-president of the campus’s faculty association. “Some of them had already made promises expecting these bonuses. And it's now been multiple months. And people feel really frustrated, they feel really abandoned by the institution, especially because they were really pushed to accept a contract that had raises in it that were less than inflation.”

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Toni Molle, a CSU spokesperson, said the university system’s labor negotiation team “has been transparent with [California Faculty Association] leadership regarding the time necessary to process the negotiated increases for faculty.”

“A March 1 date was not discussed or promised,” she said. “The timeline communicated was that once ratification was finalized, calculations would take approximately 8-12 weeks.”

“The calculations are complex, and our human resources staff must manually calculate each faculty member's increases,” Molle added. “Being mindful of the critical importance of providing the correct compensation increases and to expedite payments to faculty employees, the CSU is working with the State Controller’s Office to issue a series of payments. If we were to wait and issue one lump payment, the process would take longer than 8 to 12 weeks to calculate and process payments.”

Last week, Michael Manahan, a financial strategist and lecturer at Cal State Dominguez Hills who’s served as chief financial officer for three publicly traded companies, sent an email to acting CSU Chancellor Steve Relyea, offering to help process the raises and bonuses.

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“You may not realize that within the CSU system you have many expert professors who have worked in governments and industry and who regularly assist such entities in tackling special projects,” he wrote. “You might consider drawing on the untapped resources of myself and my colleagues who might be able to assist your organization in completing this very important task of paying the people in your organization what they are due, on time.”

Manahan said he hasn’t received any response yet.

The California Faculty Association has documented similar issues at other campuses. “At this time, we do not know if any campus is getting this 100 percent correct,” said CFA President Charles Toombs. “As a union, we are working to ensure these issues are resolved so our members are properly and accurately compensated for their extraordinary work. With the $3,500 COVID Service Award, the State Controller’s Office said it is working to release these funds in the coming weeks. We will keep working to ensure faculty are paid this contractually obligated and deserved award.”

Faculty should have gotten “the first round” of payments for back pay in paychecks issued on April 6, said spokesperson Molle. The one-time bonuses will be issued on April 18 and 19.