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CSU and Faculty Reach Deal, Avoid Strike

Negotiations had stretched on for two years before the tentative four-year agreement was reached.

The California Faculty Association and the Long Beach- based California State University system announced today they had reached a tentative agreement on a four-year faculty contract, avoiding a threatened strike this fall.

"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, CSU associate vice chancellor for labor relations.

The negotiations have stretched on for two years, but faced with the threat of a strike this fall supported by 95 percent of union members, the two sides were finally able to reach consensus. The agreement covers 23,000 faculty, coaches, counselors and librarians at campuses across the state.

The agreement -- which if ratified will run through June 30, 2014 -- calls for no salary increases for 2010-11 and 2011-12 but leaves open the possibility of renegotiating salary and benefits for the following two years. CSU also has the ability to reopen talks, as early as October, if state funding fails to improve or gets worse.

The CFA characterized the agreement as including "modest gains" but focused on having fought back more severe concessions proposed by CSU.

"We know that other public employee unions are taking pay cuts, losing benefits and enduring many other painful losses," according to a CFA statement. "While this agreement doesn't solve everything that we believe is needed, we did fight off management's attempt to impose pay and benefits cuts during the contract."

The agreement would change the evaluation and appointment process for temporary faculty and increase reimbursements to faculty who take leave to handle union duties.

The agreement would also establish a  joint committee to review the effects of burgeoning class sizes, a key issue for teachers, and reinstate an equity pay program which attempts to balance pay for long-time faculty with new teachers being hired at higher rates. The equity pay program would be implemented at each campus' discretion.

The agreement must be ratified by union members and the university's Board of Trustees. Union members will vote between Aug. 13-30, and the results will be announced on Labor Day, Sept. 3. The trustees will then meet on Sept. 18-19 to consider ratification.

- City News Service

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