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University Times

The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

Lecturers and faculty struggle to live in L.A. with their current pay

Anne To
Zitlali Montes, a lecturer in child development, speaking to faculty members about the recent CFA tentative agreement.

Many Cal State LA faculty have been outspoken about their stance against the CFA’s tentative agreement with the CSU.

Over 50 CFA LA chapter members and students gathered for a meeting between the campus bookstore and the library at the Golden Eagle statue on Friday.

Anthony Ratcliffe, CFA LA chapter president and a member of the bargaining team, led the meeting, offering a megaphone for people to share their thoughts/perspectives on the matter.

Speakers criticized the CFA’s quick settlement with the CSU, some encouraging others to vote “no” on the tentative agreement. Many said that they would like to continue striking in order to have a better opportunity to negotiate with the CSU. 

Melanie Vanegas, a natural science lecturer, spoke during the meeting, sharing that she would only be able to make $600 a month working as a lecturer at Cal State LA this semester because she was only allowed to teach two courses. 

She is not the only lecturer who struggles financially. Other members of the faculty that spoke with the University Times also said that they had to take on a second job to stay afloat.

Robert Weide, a sociology professor, said that lecturers are paid significantly less than full-time faculty like him.

“Even their full- time pay is, you know, maybe three-quarters of what my pay is,” Weide said.

Approximately 59.7% of CSU faculty is made up of lecturers, with an average annual salary of $65,553, according to the CSU website.

The average salary of full-time lecturers and professors grew by roughly 22% and 30% from 2007 to 2022, according to CalMatters. In comparison, the average presidential and chancellor salary went up about 43% and 38%, respectively. 

Jennifer McCormick, a professor in the Department of Education, said that she had to get a second job to keep up with the high cost of living in Los Angeles.

“I had to do it until I became a full professor–I’m a single mother,” McCormick said. “It’s not something you want to do, because you want to be there completely for your students at all times. To take on additional work just takes time away from Cal State LA teaching, but you really don’t have a choice.”

McCormick said that she is fortunate enough to be a full-time professor on campus, allowing her to no longer have to work a second job.

“I’ve stopped doing that, which allows me to spend more time preparing classes and supporting students,” she said. “It’s really difficult to teach on that campus.”

While Juan Lamata, an English professor, said that he has not needed to pick up a second job, he doesn’t think the current wages are enough.

“I have no idea how I could possibly buy an apartment or home with this wage,” Lamata said.

Weide said that before he became a tenured professor at Cal State LA, he was teaching at two different campuses.

“I was teaching at Cal State and Pomona at the same time,” Weide said. “It’s like an hour’s drive to Pomona. So you know, how much time and I’d be out there two or three days a week to teach so I’d be going back and forth, driving all over the place. It’s crazy, and how much time can you dedicate to the classes you’re teaching?”

Weide said that professors and lecturers have to design their classes to allow them to maximize their time as they have to balance teaching many courses.

“That’s why you as students see so many multiple choice exams and Canvas quizzes and stuff like that because all that kind of stuff just grades itself,” he said. “ If you are going where tenured faculty have a very low teaching load and are teaching very few classes, then, you’d be doing more written work and there’d be more depth and substance to the work that you’re doing. So it reflects in the quality of education that you as students are receiving.”

Lamata also compared Cal State LA faculty conditions to other universities. He said that the fact that lecturers have to teach multiple courses to earn a livable wage impacts student education.

“A Cal State LA lecturer is teaching five classes a semester, having to take on a second job, while at a university where you get paid what you deserve, maybe you only teach three or four classes and you don’t take on a second job,” Lamata said. “That makes a difference for the students. That’s why we say faculty working conditions are student learning conditions.”

A person wearing a gray shirt, holding a marker and writing on a poster board, while standing on cement outside. Other people standing behind person with poster board.
Anne Reid, a history lecturer, writing input on next steps that CFA can take.

The University Times reached out to the CSU and Cal State LA about faculty claims of being paid below living standards and were referred to view the Cal State LA Labor Activities page.

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About the Contributor
Anne To
Anne To, Editor-In-Chief
Anne To is the Editor in Chief of the UT and also the co-Station manager of the Golden Eagle Radio. She loves working on audio production with radio, podcasting, and more! You may have seen some of her comics with the Life of Biffy series. During her free time she is either taking a nap, or playing video games.  

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