© 2024 KVPR | Valley Public Radio - White Ash Broadcasting, Inc. :: 89.3 Fresno / 89.1 Bakersfield
89.3 Fresno | 89.1 Bakersfield
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lecturers could see big benefits of CSU deal, union leaders say

Fresno State faculty members stand on picket lines Monday morning, despite the rain.
Kerry Klein
Fresno State faculty members stand on picket lines Monday Jan. 22, 2024, on the first day of what was supposed to be a weeklong strike.

FRESNO, Calif. — Faculty at small California State University campuses in the San Joaquin Valley are cheering raises tentatively secured by the union this week and say it will help “raise the floor” and improve pay gaps.

Lecturers, who union leaders say are often the most underpaid at college campuses, could see some of the biggest benefits among faculty. The agreement reached late Monday night could give faculty a retroactive 5% raise from 2023 and another 5% in June if the state does not reduce base funding to the CSU.

Ann Strahm, Vice President of the California Faculty Association chapter at CSU Stanislaus, said lecturers could see a pay increase of around 21%, and up to 25%. Lecturers could see their pay go up by about $6,000. The current minimum salary for faculty starts at $54,360

Lecturers make up more than half of all faculty at all campuses in the San Joaquin Valley.

“This is huge in terms of providing something for lecturers that have often felt like they've been left out of contract negotiations,” said Andrew Jones, the chapter vice president for Fresno State. “If you've got financial security, you're not as stressed on the job and able to perform your job better.”

He said CSU refused to discuss that portion of the agreement before the strike.

Also included in the tentative agreement is increased parental leave from six to 10 weeks, an extension to the contract to 2025 and access to gender-inclusive restrooms and lactation spaces.

The agreement, which still needs to be voted on, came as hundreds of faculty across the state had planned to not work during the first day of classes this week. But the weeklong strike turned out to be a one day strike.

CSU officials signaled they expected faculty to agree to the deal.

“The agreement enables the CSU to fairly compensate its valued, world-class faculty while protecting the university system’s long-term financial sustainability,” CSU Chancellor Mildred Garcia said in a statement a day after the strike. “With the agreement in place, I look forward to advancing our student-centered work — together — as the nation’s greatest driver of social mobility and the pipeline fueling California’s diverse and educated workforce.”

Faculty await final deal

Some lecturers took to social media to express their disappointment with the agreement. But union leaders at Valley campuses say they plan to vote in favor.

Tracey Salisbury, the chapter president of CSU Bakersfield, told KVPR her campus is happy with the deal even if others aren’t.

“They’re screaming and they’re yelling, but it’s not our campus,” Salisbury said. “I'm not mad at 5% with retro pay right now.”

Andrew Jones, the union vice president for Fresno State, said his campus had a “mixed bag” of opinions.

“This becomes an issue of communications between CFA statewide and individual chapters,” Jones said. “Things weren't conveyed in a timely fashion as to what was transpiring so that people would understand that this was pretty much the best deal we could probably get.”

Despite some negative reactions, he thinks those who aren’t in favor will come around.

“As we get the full language of the tentative agreement and people are able to read over it in full, I think this may moderate some people's positions because right now it's a lot of tempers flaring, high emotion,” he said.

Salisbury said she was up early and slept late on Monday during the strike, and said planning for the strike had exhausted faculty.

She said taking time to rest – now that a tentative deal is being worked out – could change the way people feel about the agreement.

“I don't think people really had a chance to settle about it; emotions were running really high,” she said. “I feel like I'm crashing myself.”

But despite the exhaustion, Salisbury said she “can't feel down today.”

Rachel Livinal reports on higher education for KVPR through a partnership with the Central Valley Journalism Collaborative.