By Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — The California State University system is arranging extra security, reminding students about their academic obligations and taking other steps to minimize the disruption of a potential faculty strike next month, a high-ranking university official said Tuesday.
Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Lori Lamb told the system’s Board of Trustees at a meeting in Long Beach that Cal State expects its 23 campuses to remain open and some classes to be held during the five-day strike scheduled by the California Faculty Association.
“We certainly respect the right of faculty to strike, if it comes to that,” Lamb said. “However, it’s incumbent upon all of us to make sure it is done in a manner that is safe and respectful to everyone and does not interfere with the ability of students to complete courses and graduate.”
The faculty association, which also represents counselors, librarians and athletic coaches, has scheduled a strike for April 13-15 and April 18-19 unless the system before then increases the size of the pay raises the union’s 26,000 members will receive this school year.
Along with staffing campus police and security departments at full capacity on those days, campuses are making plans to have backup mental health counselors available for students and alerting other employee unions their contracts prohibited them from engaging in sympathy strikes, Lamb said.
Administrators also are warning professors and instructors that it’s illegal for them to promote the strike during their classes in the weeks ahead, she said.
“This is not an academic freedom issue,” Lamb said. “It’s a use of state resources.”
Union President Jennifer Eagan disputed the assertion that faculty can’t discuss the potential walkout with students and said she thinks the system is trying to intimidate its employees.
“Students need to be more than just informed whether their faculty member is going to have class on what day,” Eagan said. “This is a university. We talk about matters of particular concern, and certainly the CSU is a matter of concern.”
The salary standoff currently is in the hands of a fact-finding panel that is scheduled to release its findings by the end of the month. If a resolution can’t be reached within 10 days after that, the system would make its last and final contract offer and faculty would be authorized to strike.
Union members currently are in the second-year of a three-year contract that included across-the-board pay raises of 1.6 percent and 3 percent raises for some coaches and part-time instructors for the 2014-15 school year.
Under that contract, salaries for subsequent years have to be renegotiated, and the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement since talks resumed in May. The faculty association is seeking a 5 percent salary increase for 2015-16. The university is offering raises of 2 percent.
The California State University enrolls about 460,000 students, making it the nation’s largest university system. Although the faculty union held a one-day work stoppage at two campuses in 2011, the system has not been subject to a full faculty strike since system-wide collective bargaining began in the early 1980s.