California Faculty Association (CFA) members are giving authorization to strike if salary negotiations with the California State University (CSU) system should fail.
The vote was more than 94 percent in favor according to the CFA.
The CFA represents 26,000 faculty and other employees on 23 CSU campuses.
Salary negotiations started last May. Since then, the CFA has asked for a five percent general salary increase and Cal State University has offered two percent.
Professor Graham Archer is the head of Cal Poly's CFA. He told KCBX it has taken a long time for faculty to reach this point.
"We are aiming at the administration, but unfortunately when we withhold our labor, it is the students who immediately suffer," said Archer.
The CSU said in a recent release that it remains committed to reaching an agreement with "our valued faculty."
The system said it "has to live within the authorized budget and balance many competing priorities such as student enrollment, student success, information technology and maintenance and repair of buildings."
Fact-finding sessions before a three person panel are scheduled for November 23 and December 7. The fact-finding panel will consist of a neutral party and representatives from both the CSU and CFA. It will hear evidence from both parties and make a nonbinding recommendation.
Professor Archer said if this aspect of the process doesn't yield a satisfactory resolution for the CFA, a strike could happen as early as January.