Faculty Union Begins Organizing for Pay and Benefits

The LA Chapter of the California Faculty Association Prepares for Contract Negotiations

California+Faculty+Association+hold+a+meeting+on+campus+to+discuss+their+pay%2C+benefits%2C+and+other+matters+as+they+prepare+for+contract+negotiations.+
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Faculty Union Begins Organizing for Pay and Benefits

California Faculty Association hold a meeting on campus to discuss their pay, benefits, and other matters as they prepare for contract negotiations.

California Faculty Association hold a meeting on campus to discuss their pay, benefits, and other matters as they prepare for contract negotiations.

Photo by Richard Tzul

California Faculty Association hold a meeting on campus to discuss their pay, benefits, and other matters as they prepare for contract negotiations.

Photo by Richard Tzul

Photo by Richard Tzul

California Faculty Association hold a meeting on campus to discuss their pay, benefits, and other matters as they prepare for contract negotiations.

Richard Tzul, Staff Reporter

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“Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions.”

That’s one of the slogans of the California Faculty Association (CFA), the official union of CSU faculty. It’s also how contract negotiations between CFA and administrators affect students, according to Darel Engen, a CFA statewide officer.

The CFA Cal State LA chapter met twice late last month to discuss its pay and benefits, among other matters, ahead of contract negotiations that will affect CSU faculty across the state.

The faculty contract is normally renewed every three years with the most recent iteration being a two-year extension. It will expire at the end of June 2020, according to Engen, who was a guest speaker at one of the meetings.

At both meetings, pressing concerns were touched upon, including salary, healthcare, racial and social justice, family leave and classroom size.

“Most faculty are here not for the money, but we’re here because we believe education is important,” said Engen during a phone interview. “We care about our students, but we do have to pay our bills.”

Anthony Ratcliff, CFA Cal State LA Chapter president and associate professor of Pan-African Studies, said one of his biggest concerns are lecturers in the “A-category,” which he referred to as “the lowest category” in terms of pay.

He said such lecturers are paid per semester $5,000 for each class they teach, and many of them teach only one or two classes. Ratcliff said more opportunities should be provided for them to work on campus so they don’t have to resort to looking for work at other schools.

Mike Uhlenkamp, senior director of CSU public affairs, said since each “campus makes the hiring decisions based on the needs of students,” he could not give a “blanket statement” to address Ratcliff’s grievance.

At both meetings, attendees were implored to fill out an online survey where faculty members can outline what they want bargained on their behalf by CFA. Negotiations with CSU administration can take at least a year to be finalized.

While the two meetings were focused on statewide bargaining, Ratcliff brought up concerns specific to Cal State LA faculty in a phone interview with the UT. Those concerns include the lack of pay for faculty research such as peer-reviewed essays and reports. In order to be tenured, faculty members have to do research, which they’re not paid for, according to Ratcliff.

“That’s why people are working into the night on the weekends and doing a lot of work; working way more than 40 hours a week,” he said. “We don’t get compensated for that so that’s something a lot of tenure-track faculty are critical of.”

While Ratcliff acknowledged research is crucial for the school, he felt that excessive workloads can take faculty’s time and attention away from their students.

“Cal State LA faculty are outstanding scholars, mentors and teachers, and they are dedicated to the success of our students,” Cal State LA spokesperson Robert Lopez wrote via email in response to inquiries from the UT. “The University has hired more than 220 tenure-track faculty in the past six years and has approved 65 tenure-track searches for this year.”

While Uhlenkamp can’t address the specific concerns Ratcliff brought up, he said “there will be a time and a place for the statewide CFA representation to negotiate with the chancellor’s office and that time will be sometime in the near future.”

The CFA LA chapter has a meeting scheduled on Oct. 8 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Golden Eagle Ballroom 1.

For questions and more information, the CFA LA Chapter may be contacted at cfalaofficemanager@gmail.com.

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