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“It’s really hard to make ends meet”: CSU faculty on brink of strike for pay raise and benefits

California Faculty Association Cal Poly SLO Chapter members gather at the Cal Poly University Union.
Photo Courtesy of California Faculty Association Cal Poly SLO Facebook page.
California Faculty Association Cal Poly SLO Chapter members gather at the Cal Poly University Union.

California State University faculty and coaches are voting this week on whether to strike.

The California Faculty Association is seeking a 12% pay raise, along with expanded parental leave, workload changes and other demands. CSU has rejected all of the proposals and offered a 5% pay raise instead.

Cal Poly Communications Lecturer Lisa Kawamura is the president of the CFA San Luis Obispo Chapter. She said 5% is not enough.

“In fact, 12% barely gets us to being acceptable,” Kawamura said.

According to the salaries published by the CSU, the lowest paid full-time faculty are making around $60,000 a year.

CSU administrators make significantly more, with the highest paid president – at San Diego State – earning more than $700,000 a year.

Kawamura said she wants CSU management to address this disparity by paying faculty more.

“I've noticed that everything is going up except for my salary, and even though I've been at the job for 26 years now, it's really hard to make ends meet,” Kawamura said.

An accounting report the union requested found CSU should have the cash to meet the faculty demands. The university system insists it does not, but that it wants to find a workable solution.

Amy Bentley-Smith is a spokesperson for the CSU Office of the Chancellor.

“We are working through the negotiation process and hope to find an agreement,” Bentley-Smith said.

If they don’t – and union members vote yes, a strike could be the next move.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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