Union victory | CSU workers end strike after securing second tentative deal in four days

CSU workers end strike after securing second tentative deal in four days

Thousands of faculty members at California State University (CSU) reached a tentative deal with management for salary increases on Monday night after going on strike earlier in the day.

The strike, organized by members of the 28,000-strong California Faculty Association (CFA), was planned to last five days – the entire first week of the Spring Semester for some 450,000 students.

The agreement tentatively proposes a five per cent pay increase for all faculty backdated to July 1 2023, with a further five per cent pay increase due on July 1 2024. Parental leave will also increase from six to ten weeks.

The agreement must be ratified by members of the CFA.

Before Monday’s strike action, the union had been bargaining with the CSU for a 12% pay increase and to raise base salaries for the lowest-paid full-time faculty employees to $64,360.

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95% of union members voted in October to strike, after the CSU had only offered a 5% increase year-on-year. The CFA had also demanded safer workplaces, better workloads, and expanded parental leave.

The CFA took to social media, including Instagram and X – formerly Twitter – to announce the agreement: “In case anyone forgot, STRIKES WORK! After months of negotiations and two strike actions, our movement for a #betterCSU has paid off!” the posts read.

The CSU also released a statement announcing the agreement to end the strike, citing its ‘appreciation’ to have reached ‘common ground’ with the CFA.

“The agreement enables the CSU to fairly compensate its valued, world-class faculty while protecting the university system's long-term financial sustainability,” says Mildred García, Chancellor, California State University.

With the tentative agreement in place, faculty staff are expected to return to their teaching positions from Tuesday and classes are set to resume.

A tentative agreement was also reached on Friday between the CSU and over 1,000 trade workers such as plumbers and electricians who were due to join this week’s collective action.

A statement from Teamsters Local 2010 announced the highlights from the tentative agreement, including “significant guaranteed raises each year of the contract, the return of a salary step system, and every member reaching their target step during the life of the contract.”

García describes the work of employees represented by Teamster as invaluable. “I am thankful and appreciative that we have been able to arrive at a fiscally sustainable agreement that fairly compensates them for their skilled and dedicated work,” she says.

The two noteworthy deals for the CSU faculty staff in the space of four days are the latest in a series of high-profile union victories, indicating a rise in the power of collective bargaining in the U.S.

In October 2023, The United Auto Workers union reached a tentative agreement with Ford to raise union member wages by 25% over a four-and-a-half-year period.

In the same month, Kaiser Permanente’s healthcare workers unions reached a historic deal bringing across-the-board wage increases totaling 21% over four years.

Unionized workers at Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, the Writers Guild, SAG-AFTRA, Costco, UPS, and American Airlines have all also won deals or legal battles in the past year.

Analysis from CNN in October 2023 revealed close to 900,000 unionized workers won immediate pay hikes of 10% or more in the 12 months prior.

These agreements reached by the CSU faculty are - like many of the other examples above - the result of months of negotiations and back and forth with employers.

“This historic agreement was won because of members’ solidarity, collective action, bravery, and love for each other and our students,” reads a statement on the CFA website. “This is what People Power looks like. This deal immensely improves working conditions for faculty and strengthens learning conditions for students.”

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