A strike by thousands of California State University faculty, including at CSU-San Bernardino, was called off early last week after a surprise tentative agreement was reached, but ratification is still pending. (Credit: CFA-San Bernardino)

The planned weeklong faculty strike scheduled to take place last week at California State University campuses systemwide came to an abrupt end late Monday night after a deal was struck between the university system and the union.

“The collective action of so many lecturers, professors, counselors, librarians and coaches over these last eight months forced CSU management to take our demands seriously,” California Faculty Association President Charles Toombs said in a statement announcing the deal. “This tentative agreement makes major gains for all faculty at the CSU.”

The university system also celebrated the tentative agreement, with CSU Chancellor Mildred García saying in a statement posted to the university system’s website that she was “extremely pleased and deeply appreciative,” that the two parties had come to an agreement, ending the strike.

“The agreement enables the CSU to fairly compensate its valued, world-class faculty while protecting the university system’s long-term financial sustainability,” she said. “With the agreement in place, I look forward to advancing our student-centered work — together — as the nation’s greatest driver of social mobility and the pipeline fueling California’s diverse and educated workforce.”

According to the union, the tentative agreement includes a 5% general salary increase for all faculty retroactive to July 1, 2023; a 5% general salary increase for all faculty this coming July 1 (pending state funding), and raising the salary floor for the lowest-paid faculty members, increasing paid parental leave from six to 10 weeks, improving gender-inclusive facilities on campus and extending the current contract by one year to June 30, 2025, among other provisions.

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“On an anecdotal basis, I’ve heard from folks that are excited about particular terms in the agreement, and I’ve heard from folks who are quite disappointed with particular terms and also the nature of preparing for a weeklong strike and having a very quick turnaround to teaching classes the following morning,” Thomas “T.C.” Corrigan, who handles press and communications for CFA-San Bernardino, said.  “But sometimes, bargaining can unfold in unexpected ways.”

The agreement came after thousands of CSU faculty across the state walked off the job Monday, including hundreds from CSU San Bernardino (CSUSB), which has a satellite campus in Palm Desert.

“Classes are back on, faculty reported back to work, but we’re also in this period where folks are looking over information regarding the tentative agreement, waiting for the full language of the tentative agreement as well so we can dig into what has been agreed to and start to formulate our own judgments on how to vote on it,” Corrigan said. “My understanding is that this is usually a situation where CFA statewide has meetings at different campuses to explain the tentative agreement and to make a case for it and to explain what the implications of a yes vote or a no vote would be.”

The faculty, and other staff and students supportive of the strike, braved heavy rains moving through the area to rally outside the main campus in San Bernardino. Picketing was scheduled to take place at the Palm Desert campus Tuesday.

“What we did here at CSUSB was really effective,” Corrigan said. “Our parking lots were near empty, lecture halls were sitting empty, and that’s a sign of an effective strike. It was pouring rain and people were out in large numbers.”

Ahead of the strike, CSU had asked students to report canceled classes and student services directly to the school, an action Corrigan called a “fear tactic” since the university has an established process in place for faculty to report absences, but that the school said was necessary to better understand how many faculty were involved.

“California labor law prohibits the California State University from asking employees in advance if they plan to participate in the strike; therefore, we do not have figures of the number of employees who aren’t working or whether they canceled the classes they are scheduled to teach,” CSUSB said in a statement to The Record.

Dates for ratification have not yet been set, though CFA said in a frequently asked questions document posted to its website that voting would take place electronically with a simple majority vote needed to ratify the contract.

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