Thursday, March 22, 2007

Largest higher education strike in US history - California faculty union builds unity with students and communities

As we prepare for the largest higher education strike in US history, California State University faculty are building stronger long-term alliances with students and communities. Unity is crucial for victory in our fight for a fair contract and our students' fight for a real voice and to stop the huge fee increases recently approved by the CSU trustees.
Our CFA board last night voted unanimously to authorize our strike. Already field organizers are making plans with our student and community allies to shut down our campuses if necessary.
For great student perspectives on how student learning conditions are interconnected with faculty/staff working conditions - see this student produced video - Listen to the Students.
One of my former students Peter Lauterborn who also writes for has started a facebook group -" I will not cross the picket line" to help students stay informed about the strike preparations at SF State and all over California. Already numerous student leaders and others are working to build stronger alliances with faculty as well. Student organizers are going class to class to make presentations to inform students of the potential strike and what it means for their future.
While the SF Chronicle seems to be burying the strike story on the back pages, the Sacramento Bee has been featuring great investigative reporting on faculty conditions and executive perks and local organizing at Sac State.

• 94% vote to support a strike; voter turnout is 81%; bargaining crisis inspires 1,300 new members to join the union
Any lingering questions about the solidarity and resolve of the California State University faculty were answered resoundingly Wednesday by the results of the first strike vote in the history of the California Faculty Association.
A stunning 94% of the voters agreed that the CSU’s professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches should initiate rolling walkouts if the CSU administration continues to reject bringing their salaries in line with their peers across the country.
More than 8,000 voters—an extraordinary 81% of the CFA membership—turned out to send an unmistakable message to Chancellor Charles B. Reed.
...The pro-strike-authorization numbers rang across all 23 CFA chapters. On only one campus was the vote in favor of striking as low as 79%.
An equally telling number is the 1,300 faculty who have been moved to join CFA during the recent months of the bargaining crisis and impasse. Taken together, the landslide strike authorization and the union’s growing ranks leave no doubt that faculty have the capacity to shut down the university if an agreement cannot be reached, and reached quickly, said CFA Vice President Lillian Taiz.
“There will be hundreds of faculty and supporters from other unions on the picket lines,” predicted Taiz, a leader of CFA’s field operations, “and we think they will be joined by students and staff who are as fed up as we are.”

Sampling of the media coverage of today’s historic developments.

CFA’s news release about the strike vote

CFA Board votes to implement rolling strikes on all 23 CSU campuses as 10-day “quiet period” ends
On Wednesday evening the CFA Board of Directors met and, by unanimous vote, made it official, turning the strike authorization into a strike plan with teeth.
The Board empowered the CFA officers and Field Team (who organized the strike vote) to make a final decision on which days and which campuses will begin the two-day walkouts in the initial round of job actions. Out of necessity, planning has been under way for months.
The first walkouts are expected in April but may occur sooner. Once the fact-finder’s recommendations are made public this Sunday, at the conclusion of the 10-day “quiet period” mandated by state law, the faculty are legally entitled to undertake job actions—to go on strike.
The expectation is that Chancellor Reed will ignore the recommendations of the fact-finding report and quite possibly attempt to unilaterally impose working conditions on the faculty.
If he does either, a strike will begin shortly thereafter.
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