SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- California State University faculty members across the state have voted to authorize a strike if contract talks with the university fail to result in a better deal, union officials announced today.
More than 94 percent of California Faculty Association Members on the university's 23 campuses voted to authorize a strike, according to the union.
The strike authorization vote, which took place between Oct. 19 and 28, came after the CSU board rejected a union proposal for a 5 percent general salary increase and a service salary increase for eligible faculty, instead offering a 2 percent salary increase.
California Faculty Association officials argue that amount is not enough to support the high cost of living in places such as the Bay Area. CSU expenditures on faculty salaries have remained flat for the past ten years, according to the union.
Speaking at San Jose State University Wednesday, Union President Jennifer Eagan said the union was ready to act "if necessary and for as long as it takes."
"This fight is about the bread and butter issue of salary, but that's not all," Eagan said in a statement. "The vision of what the CSU is, who it serves and what it can be in the future is at stake."
CSU spokeswoman Toni Molle said in a statement today that the university's proposed salary increase would cost a total of $32.8 million, while the union proposal would cost a total of $101.7 million. Adding in "me too" clauses for other bargaining groups would bring that total to $108 million.
Molle said that faculty were the only group to receive pay increases during the recession years, but that the university also has to address other priorities including enrollment growth, facility improvements and repairs, technology upgrades and student services and programs.
"The CSU remains committed to the collective bargaining process and reaching a negotiated agreement with the California Faculty Association," Molle said in a statement.
"A strike would not be in the best interest of our students," Molle said.
Eagan said the union plans a march and rally at the Chancellor's Office in Long Beach on Nov. 17, the date of the CSU board's next public meeting.
Contract talks began last May and are now in a stage known as factfinding, in which a neutral third party is chosen to hear both sides and write a factfinding report, union officials said. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement as a result of that process, the chancellor has the power to impose his "last, best offer" and the union has the right to strike.
Molle said fact-finding hearings are scheduled for Nov. 23 and Dec. 7.
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