California State University Faculty Authorize Strike; 400,000 Students Could Be Affected

Wednesday, March 21st 2007, 9:07 pm
By: News On 6

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ Professors for the nation's largest four-year public college system could walk out of California State University classrooms as soon as next month after union leaders announced Wednesday members had authorized a strike.

The vote comes after nearly two years of bargaining have failed to produce an agreement for faculty.

``We are a faculty that is fed up and we're a faculty that's ready to walk off the job,'' California Faculty Association President John Travis said as he announced results of the vote at the Southern California campus of CSU Dominguez Hills.

Union leaders said if a strike is called it would be limited to two-day actions that rotate from campus to campus to lessen the impact on the system's more than 400,000 students.

Chancellor Charles Reed said in a news release that administrators were doing everything they could to reach a settlement, but if faculty strike, the system has plans in place to minimize disruptions.

In Sacramento, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a news release saying he was optimistic talks would resume.

Nadir Vissanjy, chairman of the California State Student Association, said the organization doesn't have a position on the strike, but it supports having university employees paid competitively.

Both sides agree the professors and lecturers are paid less than peers at comparable institutions. But administrators said they made an offer to increase wages by nearly 25 percent over the next three years.

Union leaders dispute that most faculty would receive that much, questioning the mechanics of how the raises would be structured.

Union officials said about 80 percent of the 11,000 dues-paying faculty eligible to vote on a strike did so and of those, 94 percent endorsed the action. The system has about 23,000 faculty in all.

``We do not want to strike. We want to achieve a settlement, but the administration of the CSU has proven extremely obstinate for the past six months,'' Travis said.

The system is separate from the University of California system, which has about 209,000 students.