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Cal State faculty votes to take furloughs

California State University faculty have narrowly voted to accept work furloughs, averting what administrators had warned would be mass layoffs and tens of thousands of class cancellations at the nation’s largest university system, the faculty union announced today.

Professors in the 23-campus university system had complained that the two-day-a month furlough proposal was just a pay cut by another name, as it included no provisions to reduce their workloads.  But in the end, they voted  54% to 46% to go along with what Chancellor Charles B. Reed framed as the best way to save faculty jobs and preserve courses in the face of dire state budget cuts.

The university, which educates about 400,000 students, earlier this week raised fees 20% — on top of a 10% fee increase approved in May — to meet a $584-million budget gap. Students now pay $4,026 a year in system charges not including room, board, books and separate fees charged by each campus.

Cal State also plans to cut its enrollment by 40,000 students, or 10%, over the next two years.

--  Gale Holland

Comments () | Archives (18)

Interesting that you have to PAY EXTRA to VOTE in the CFA union, but if you don't pay, then they still have the right to take your money away from you. That's taxation without representation, plain and simple. And, oh, how exactly do I teach 10% less? Better to kick out the poorly performing teachers (i.e. senior faculty resting on their laurels with no history of publication and mediocre teaching records) and let the good ones keep their jobs.

Professors and lecturers need to get off their high, entitled horses. EVERYONE on furlough will be getting a pay cut and trying to do the same amount of work on less time. You think an auditor has less to audit? You think a secretary has less to schedule or coordinate? You think furloughs are easier for the payroll dept to track? You think people sue less? Professors grouse as if they are the only ones that matter, and it's disgusting.

Actually, the cost is the same whether or not you are a member of the union. You just have to fill out a form and your designation changes from non-member to member (which allows you to vote). There is a $10 per month additional PAC charge that you can waive (as I did when I joined two weeks ago). And yes, I totally agree with you about the senior faculty. Lazy, terrible teachers that haven't done any research since 1970! Time for them to retire.

To hard-working CSU faculty--

I have sympathy for your plight, but get real! I don't care how junior you are; surely you have been in this business long enough to know that there is no way to identify the "poorly performing teachers" to boot out. To whom would you entrust this decision? Perhaps to a Dean? a Chair? or some high-ranking administrator? (those rational beings so trusted by faculty, who know such persons are of impeccable integrity and always do the Right Thing). Perhaps to student evaluations (always a reliable measure of teaching ability.) Or perhaps to a committee of your peers, all of whom, as you well know, act in good faith in pursuit of the academic Common Good. Take your pay cut and be happy you have a job. There are thousands who would be willing to take your place for less than whatever you make, and (if that's what it would take) would be most happy to serve on a committee identifying you as one of the 10% who has to go.

Hardworking Junior Professor: You might want to read up closed shop. You do not pay extra to vote, you pay the dues. If you are a nonmember in a closed shop, you receive a rebate on any of your dues used for political purposes. You pay less but benefit from contract negotiations, taking advantage of full dues paying members. Concerning your comments on older professors, I have studied under several excellent 'older' professors while in college and think your blanket indictment of veteran professors is perhaps misguided. Teaching 10% less cannot happen. If you speak with older professors they can show you how to restructure your course and cover the most important topics. After reading your comment, I trust you are not an English professor.

The U.S.A. offers the best university education in the worlld, despite it's poor showing in grades K-12 and the public schools are part of that success story. These budget cuts are just weakening good institutions so that they will be less productive. The schools will have to reduce enrollment, classes, and faculty.

Traditionally students must live on less income to attend school and its a good way to ride out a recession for a yoiung person. They can qualify for better jobs when the economy begins to recover. This time, that's going to be a lot tougher to do. Reducing classes offerred simply means they must attend more terms to graduate -- lose more income and pay more fees. Harder admissions standards to reduce enrollment reduces the opportunity for more people to better themselves. So going back to school is becoming a less reasonable option.

What for? To avoid having to borrow money to run the state while the economy in a recession so deep it could turn into depression so the private sector has no incentives to take risks associated with such a precarious business climate for at least a couple of years? The lack of activity is not being helped with this strategy. In such a deep recession it is not prudent for government to cost cut if it drives down business activity even more and delays the kind of turn around where the private sector will actually generate the bulk of the activity.

The true problem with the voting is that a person who teaches 20%-time (e.g., 1 class per semester) and who gets 20% of their salary from Cal State has an equivalent vote to a full-time teacher with a 100%-time base.

Hmmm. Let's see which number is larger?
10% reduction of 20% of one's total salary
10% reduction of 100% of one's total salary.

The faculty union is skewed number-wise in favor of part-time teachers...so it is no surprise that the majority voted in favor of pay cut disguised as a "furlough".

The union should be named:
California Lecturers (Part-time Faculty) Association as it has not well-represented full time professors.

I see many posting comments similar to jad's " There are thousands who would be willing to take your place for less than whatever you make, and (if that's what it would take) would be most happy to serve on a committee identifying you as one of the 10% who has to go."
Unfortunately, that's not true anymore, at least not in biology. We have had a torrent of faculty voluntarily leaving the CSU for years, and when we are infrequently allowed to replace one, we get few applications, and even fewer qualified applications. Then there's the matter of getting an applicant to accept the salary and teaching load - that has taken two years, with going down to our 6th or 7th choice in some hires, and sometimes no hire was identified. The majority of our new tenure track hires over the last 6 years have left after two or three years for greener pastures. Many other comments refer to the 'generous' benefits, by which they primarily mean the state pension plan. How generous a benefit can this really be considered when it is constantly under attack? The pensions may well be imaginary given the way things are going; new hires are smart enough to know this and so are the rest of us. Given that we are contributing heavily from our income to this pension plan, where will we be when politicians use it to balance some future budget?

MISLEADING HEADLINE: Cal State faculty VOTES to take furloughs >> Actually, the faculty VOTED to NEGOTIATE furloughs, not to ACCEPT furloughs!

Peter, I think you're going to find it's the same thing. The vote was basically to let Charlie do whatever he wants. Yeah, I'm kind of annoyed about the part-timers skewing the vote, too. I'm senior faculty--just barely--because I worked my tuckus off writing and publishing and made it to full in nine years. This cut will dump me down to lower than I was making as an associate prof, and even as a full prof I was making less than an assistant professor in business.

I don't think there's a job out there somewhere else, but if there was, even if it was for WAY less money, I would take it. I'm tired of the disrespect, and I'm tired of putting up with this living 3,000 miles away from my family.

Dear Marilyn et al.,

My facts (minus my bile-ridden hyperbole) are essentially correct, as you can read here on the CFA's website, regarding SB645:


State law says I must pay to be a member of the bargaining unit (which has just bargained away 10% of my salary). This comes to almost $500/year. However, if I want to vote in the decisions that the bargaining unit (which is the same organization as the union), I must pay extra to be a member of the union per se (which is only a few dollars a month more, but still, it's a matter of GP). Now, the way that actually works in principle is that faculty are automatically made paying members of the union, and if you want to exit the union, save those dollars, and just pay the base rate for the "work" that the bargaining unit does, you have to write a letter opting out. When you do this (exit the union), you can't vote on the decisions it makes, even though it's the same organization that does the bargaining.

If there was any doubt: I never received an email (and yes I know there were probems with spam filters - I checked mine) asking me to vote.

I refuse to give the union more money than the state says I have to because of things like the "Flunk Arnold" campaign, where they gave away a prize (i.e. money paid by faculty members) to the member of the community that made the best commercial trashing the Governor. WTF? Without getting into gubernatorial politics, how does that help faculty? And did anyone get to vote on whether or not to give that prize away?

Finally, regarding "I should be happy just to have a job." Yes, I should, and trust me, I am. But from the minute I showed up, I've been busting my butt 60-80 hours a week - why? So that should the axe ever fall on the faculty, I wouldn't be the first one to go, no matter what the criteria or who the judge. I've worked very very hard to be in the 90th percentile of people doing my job, I already make the absolute lowest salary of any junior professor on campus, and now I'm being asked to teach one of my courses this year for free (which is how it works out, trust me...). I'll do it, and I'll be happy to have a job, but if II think I'm working harder, for less, so that other people can keep their jobs, I don't think that's an unreasonable interpretation of recent events for me to hold.

So, would I throw my CV into a pile with all the other faculty members on campus, let anyone with a reasonable conscience and knowledge of academic affairs choose the top 90% of the performers, kick out the rest, and not complain if I wasn't chosen? Honestly, absolutely, yes - that's precisely why I've been working so hard for so long. And yes, I trust my Chair, my Dean, my Provost, my President, and all the hardworking faculty I see in the halls late at night, on weekends and holidays, to make those decisions. Whom would I not trust with that decision? The CFA, its disproportionately lecturer voting base, and the "show up to teach poorly and disappear" crowd.

I'll make less money this year than when I first showed up. Shouldn't my "bargaining unit" refund every penny I've ever given them? I mean, I send them enough money for a long weekend on the beach in Hawaii every year, and for what?

OK, y'all, have fun with this one. I've never posted anything to the internet before that first post below; I'm glad at least that we're having the discussion.

PS: I'm not an English professor, though I do remember reading something in a book once about throwing stones...

@ Jad.... um, I hardly doubt that you can go to the fields and pick up anybody to perform as a college professor simply because they are willing to do the job. You should get a clue that quite a few graduates do not qualify to be professors. These doctors study for years to get their Ph.D.s and at the end of the journey, they make probably as much as a teacher in K-12.

@ JDN... fortunately, many parents, spouses, children, and more would beg to differ that professors (and all teachers who really are there to teach) are the ones that matter. Without them, we would have a bunch of illiterate dummies walking around who can't read or write. But then, you would probably think we should build more prisons.

@ hardworking junior CSU faculty member... no wonder you are a junior CSU faculty member. Hopefully you will never be a full time one with that attitude. I wonder if you would say that to all the full time faculty you work with but cozy up to in the hallways...

SMH @ the whole CSU mess.

@CSU Student: You are mininformed; I hope that in your journey through the CSU system you can find the time to appreciate the way it works (wikipedia under "tenure" is pretty good). I am what's called an "Assistant Professor" on the "tenure track". Assistant doesn't mean I help other professors, it means I don't have tenure yet (that gets called "Associate Professor" and, much later, just "Professor"). IIn my case, "junior" faculty doesn't mean part-time; in fact, just the opposite. The part-time faculty you're probably thinking about are lecturers. Junior faculty are the only ones who get reviewed by committee, chair, dean, and provost on their work every single year, for the first 6 years, before they are given tenure and the review frequency (and hence motivation to do lots of work, from what I see) drops to once every 3-5 years. In other words, junior faculty are held to a higher standard than senior faculty in terms of work production (and therefore work load, if they want to keep their jobs), while being paid the least, with the least job security. Of course, this is the system everywhere and we all know it, but when everyone - lecturers, junior faculty, and senior faculty alike - take the same pay cut, it's more likely going to be the junior faculty member who still has to keep working 60+ hours a week if s/he wants to get tenure and keep their job.

A better way to reduce costs within the system is to layoff all of the part-time lecturers who have full-time positions elsewhere in business, engineering, and yes, even in academia, including those many who are tenured professors at other institutions outside of the CSU. Most of the part-time lecturers in the above group teach introductory level courses that could be taught by others. Many assert their union-given rights -- an "entitlement" to teach a certain number of courses per year under their contracts -- as a way to feather their own financial beds, and you can bet that they all voted for "furloughs," hurting all the rest of us who are just trying to get by. No more double-dipping: especially by those who have good full-time jobs in the public sector, especially in institutions of public higher education outside of the CSU! When is the union going to address this problem, which is significant?

The logic/strategy of the faculty union is asinine, to say the least. This furlough is an insult to all of the tenure-track faculty members of the CSU who do the sheer majority of work that is required for the university to operate & maintain its reputation in the classroom and beyond (i.e. faculty governance, thesis committees, publications & cutting-edge research) that ultimately brings $$ to the campus.

As "CSU Full-Time Faculty Member" said below, it makes NO SENSE that lecturers (i.e., part-time instructors) should have had an equivalent vote for the furlough proposal given the minimal impact a furlough has on the bottom-line of their wallets.

Part-time employees (i.e., Lecturers) are officially designated by the university in their contracts as "TEMPORARY-STATUS EMPLOYEES". When the S#@T hits the fan, budget-wise and we have to cut back to save $, why aren't we simply laying-off the TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES?? I think "CSU Senior Faculty Member" is generous in thinking that this should be reserved for part-timers who already have a full-time job,...I don't think that should matter--temporary is temporary,..all temporary folks have the same clause in their contract, and it is a fact that most part-timers have other lines of employment/income.

The answer to ending budget problems isn't about "sharing pain", or "all of a sudden adopting a socialist approach"; however, the truth as stated by others is that Part-time Lecturers VASTLY OUTNUMBER Tenure-Track Faculty, and voting for a furlough simply better serves Part-timers interests...nuff said.

In these last few months, I now have a very clear sense of the motivation, attitudes, and conniving behavior of lecturers. The fact that that they are comfortable "changing the rules"--of their contract which have always clearly stated that they have little job security--is highly unethical and uncollegial, and objectionable, to say the least!

This reminds me of my freshman level economics class when I first learned of the term "risk tolerance." It is a great way to think about the balance between full-time and part-time university teaching jobs. Part-timers have been gambling and have had higher risk tolerance as their job stability is much more volatile. What do we know about high risk tolerance,...you're likely to lose more when bad times arrive. As others have said below, myself, included, the reason I now am NOT a part-time employee is b/c I made sacrifices, worked my tail off, and in many cases make LESS money annually than many of my part-time colleagues.

Love what was said below about renaming the union the "California Lecturers' Assn",...couldn't be any better stated. I hope that more tenure-track faculty think critically about what's been happening.

I want to clear up a few of the misconceptions I have read here. I am one of the temporary lecturers at a CSU. I am paid 2500/course, and some of these courses have 100 - 200 students. I do NOT have a tenure- track position elsewhere, I do not have a full time job elsewhere. I do not do this because I can earn a lot of money. CSUs, like many other universities, have begun to rely on temporary laborers like lecturers because we are cheaper than hiring more full-time (tenure-track) employees. (As a side note, entry-level K-12 teachers make more than most Asst Professors. In the state of CA, you can earn more as a K-12 teacher than as a Professor).
JDN: the difference here is that administrators can (and will) be closing their offices during the furlough period. They won't be available. Professors are still expected to hold classes, but to do 10% less. Have you ever prepared a lecture? How do you prepare 10% less? How do you grade 10% less? Do I let my students out once the class is 90% over, grade only 90% of their papers?
Classes need to be canceled on furlough days, and instructors need to make clear to the students why their education is being affected in such a manner.

I'm going to be a senior this year at CSUN and I am wondering how the furlough days will affect students.

Will classes be canceled twice a month as a result?

The whole thing seems so unfair to everyone involved. I have had classes with lecturers, asst. professors and f/t professors and I am happy to say that they all were wonderful and hard-working. I hate to think of them being exploited to work just as hard for 10% less. The job that professors do is not quantifiable, so how can they expect instructors & professors to work 10% less?

I'm curious to know how this will affect the students...not only are we now going to pay 20% more, but we may be getting less in return.

Please shed some light on this...thank you.

Sorry but JDN is an idiot. Professors have struggled for years to get ... let's see ... a PhD ... for the promise of what? Nothing. What a moron. It is outrageous that this country's rhetoric values education but in the end what do we get for putting up with abuse from our own professors and students? Nada. Secretarial positions are 9 - 5 jobs, but professors work 24/7. Clearly, you don't know what the hell you are talking about.


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