On Monday, Jan. 22, a union of 29,000 faculty members, librarians, coaches, and others went on strike at the nation’s largest public university system at California State University.
The California Faculty Association(CFA) had originally gone on strike looking for a 12% pay raise instead of the 5% CSU offered. This led the CFA to reach out to Eastern Michigan University accounting professor, Howard Bunsis to see if CSU could afford the raises.
Bunsis has had a unique perspective on how college-level faculty have been treated by their administrators over the decades of his work. This perspective has allowed for him to be requested by other college unions to analyze their financial situations to determine where the administration was showing up, and where they were coming up short.
"Over last summer, I did a financial analysis of the CSU system, and I presented those findings at a hearing before the strike in late December. I have performed these types of analyses in many universities around the country over the last two decades," Bunsis said.
Even though Bunsis did not participate in the strike himself, his analysis over the summer allowed the CFA to come to their conclusions about their work environment.
"The Cal State System is a system of 23 campuses and thousands of employees, so it is not similar to EMU in that regard. It is similar in that the CSU administration, like the EMU administration, is claiming poverty when they have more than sufficient resources to meet the union's demands," Bunsis said.
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Similar to CSU, Eastern had faced union negotiations and a strike within the past couple of years. Last semester the EMU Federation of Teachers negotiated a 12.5% over the next five years for full-time lecturers and 16.4% for part-time lecturers. In 2022 the the Eastern Michigan University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors received 4% or $4,000 in the first year of the agreement, as well as a 3.25% base pay increase in the second and third years of the agreement This took place after a five-day strike.
CSU strike only lasted for one day and CFA reached a tentative agreement with the school. One of the highlights of the agreement stated by CFA Bargaining Chair, Kevin Wehr “What’s happening is the general salary increase of 5% is raising the floor, and then we’re adding another $6,000 to that for A and the same for B,” he said to the CSU University Times.
Though not all faculty are happy with this agreement the CFA and CSU will be going back into bargaining next year, supporters of the CFA hope for a more bountiful resolution for the faculty than what was reached this year.