CSUMB Faculty Blast Chancellor, Demand Better Pay
November 10, 2011
Over 70 CSU Monterey Bay faculty, staff and students picketed on school grounds Wednesday to protest broken promises about pay raises and call for the resignation of CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.
Representatives from the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council and the Occupy Monterey movement joined the protest in front of CSUMB's Tanimura & Antle Family Memorial Library, where participants holding signs reading "Reed=Greed" and "we are the 99 percent" marched in a circle, chanting slogans like "public education is not a corporation."
The protest, spurred by the CSU administration's recent decision to withhold salary increases negotiated in previous contracts, was led by the local chapter of the California Faculty Association, the labor union for CSU teachers which is currently negotiating a new contract.
Similar protests took place on over 20 CSU campuses statewide Tuesday and Wednesday, and are a precursor to CFA-approved strikes planned for Nov. 17 on CSU's Dominguez Hills and East Bay campuses. The schools plan to cancel classes and allow thousands of students to join faculty and staff as they strike for the day. Buses will leave from CSUMB early on the 17th to transport supporters to the East Bay campus.
Reed and top CSU administrators say salary increases, expected to cost $20 million in the first year and $10 million in subsequent years, are impractical when the school system has seen its state funding slashed by $650 million this year. Teachers and students counter that CSU executive salaries have risen in that time, while student tuition and fees have skyrocketed and faculty pay has stayed flat.
"It's terrible for morale," says CSUMB digital art professor Pat Watson. He hasn't had a pay raise in 13 years. "And when class size and student fees increase, our ability to serve working-class students goes down."
Renee Infelise, a senior at CSUMB, says she's had to take out more loans since the CSU board of trustees approved a 12-percent tuition hike last July. The CSU board is considering an additional 9-percent hike for next school year if the state does not allocate additional funds for the CSU system in its upcoming budget.
"I'm already spending more money, and I'm wondering if there will even be jobs out there for me," Infelise says. She joined the protest to support her professors, many of whom encouraged their students to make a sign and march with them.
Many in attendance drew parallels between CSU's economic inequities and the broader protests against corporate greed embodied by the Occupy movement. "You have a small portion of the population who are able to enrich and empower themselves at our expense, at the expense of the 99 percent," says Michael Frederiksen, a CSUMB senior and Occupy Monterey participant invited by CFA to speak at Wednesday's protest.
Infelise says she's inspired by the convergence of different groups united under the same economic frustration. "You can sense the power of the movement," she says. "It's really starting to build."