Faculty members of CSU Monterey Bay plan to strike for five days if they're not given a 5-percent pay raise by April 13 as part of a larger campaign that could disrupt classes on all 23 CSU campuses, from Humboldt to San Diego.
While the faculty union, the California Faculty Association, won a 2-percent pay increase for the 2015-16 academic year, members claim their salaries have not kept up with inflation and cost of living increases of the past decade.
“It’s very clear that we don’t want to strike. Teaching is what we want to do,” says Rafael Gomez, a tenured Spanish professor who has been at CSUMB for 16 years.
“They took away 10 percent of what we earned during the financial crisis. The economy is doing better but we’re still not getting paid what we deserve.”
While the faculty in the CSU system are in the first year of a three-year contract, they are exercising a clause that allows them to renegotiate, Gomez says. If no agreement is reached, more than 26,000 faculty across the state may suspend class from April 13-15 and 18-19.
The faculty union’s demands are supported by Assemblyman—and Monterey County Supervisor candidate—Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville.
“I encourage the CSU chancellor to negotiate in good faith over the next two months to find a resolution that will avoid a strike,” Alejo said in a statement. “I support the faculty’s fight for 5 because it’s about fairness. I believe we can achieve fairness for our CSU faculty while also fulfilling our commitment to keep college affordable for our students.”
A spokesperson for CSUMB says the faculty can’t strike as the collective bargaining process is still underway.
“CSUMB and the other campuses are preparing for the possibility of a strike. If a strike occurs, campuses intend to remain open,” CSUMB officials said in a prepared statement.
“The strike should not interfere with students being able to complete their courses and graduate on time.”
Gomez sees their fight for a pay increase as part of a larger movement sweeping the country seeking a realignment of civic priorities.
“Can we dream of free public higher education?” he asks. “We are one of the largest faculty unions in the country. I believe this is going to be a big deal.”