By Eugene Ruyle

Posted on April 1, 2016 by the Communications Committee

At its statewide meeting in Fresno on March 19, 2016, the Peace and Freedom Party voted unanimously to support the California Faculty Association (CFA) in its plans for a systemwide strike on April 13-15 and 18-19. CFA represents 23,000 faculty, librarians, and counselors on the 23 campuses of the California State University (CSU), one of the largest and best public universities in the United States. The quality of California system of higher education is not an accident. It was built by the hard work of dedicated faculty and students.

Since its formation in the 1980s, CFA has worked to ensure the professional working conditions and reasonable learning conditions that are essential for quality education. The planned strike seeks to end the CSU Board of Trustees unfair wage freeze for professors, a policy that hurts California students by making recruitment and retention of quality faculty difficult. CFA is calling for a 5% salary increase to make up for years of no salary increases. CSU officials do not claim that funds are not available to meet this reasonable salary increase, only that it has other budgetary priorities. Given the murky nature of the CSU budget, these priorities remain unclear, but CSU officials authorized salary increases for campus presidents averaging 44% from $218,871 in 2004 to $314,357 in 2014. Meanwhile, the average salary of CSU faculty in the same period only rose by 8% which, when adjusted for inflation, actually represents a fall in purchasing power of over 10%.

Although the current contract negotiation focus primarily on faculty salaries and working conditions, CFA has consistently opposed student fee hikes and fought for better learning conditions for students. CFA is also a member of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, a national organization launched to advocate for affordable, quality higher education accessible to all, and for a more democratic governing structure that would include the voices of the faculty, students and our communities - not only administrators, politicians, foundations, and think tanks - in the process of making change in higher education.

Since our founding in 1967, the Peace and Freedom Party has not only opposed every foreign adventure by U.S. imperialism, we have also responded positively to every request for support for strike actions by U.S. labor unions. Our support for this strike action by CFA is part of our foundational support for the working class and our platform's call for: Full free high quality public education from pre-school through graduate school, with lifelong learning and retraining. Cancel existing student debt.

Eugene E Ruyle is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Cal State Long Beach and a former delegate to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. His union dues are still deducted from his retirement check. He is also a member of the State Central Committee of the Peace and Freedom Party.

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