SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Nearly 30,000 professors, librarians, instructors and other workers at California State University, America's largest public university system, walked off the job Monday in a weeklong strike demanding higher pay.
The shutdown comes after two weeks across Cal State's 23 campuses CSU officials have concluded contract negotiations With a unilateral offer to start this year with a 5% pay rise, effective Jan. 31, the union is far short of the 12% increase it is seeking.
With the new semester starting Monday, classes for many of the system's 450,000 students could be canceled unless teachers decide to cross picket lines individually.
Victoria Wilson, a part-time political science lecturer who went on strike in the rain at Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles, said she was striking for higher pay. His salary fluctuates from semester to semester, hampering his long-term financial goals.
“We're looking for a better deal to ensure better wages and working conditions on campus,” Wilson said.
The California Teachers Union represents about 29,000 workers. Another 1,100 CSU plumbers, electricians and other skilled trades workers represented by Teamsters Local 2010 were poised to join the strike, but an agreement was reached with the university late Friday.
On Monday, some students staged a sit-in to show their support.
Cal State Long Beach student Gabriela Alvarez said she participated in a demonstration outside the university to support and reject her professors. Tuition hikes starting this fall.
“It's important that our professors are treated well, we need more student resources here, and we're trying to keep tuition down,” Alvarez said.
“I can't afford next semester if they go with tuition,” he added.
Cal State President Mildred Garcia said in a video call with reporters Friday that the university system had tried to avoid a strike but that the union's salary demands were simply not possible.
“We have to work within our financial reality,” he said.
In December, CFA members took the stage One day field trip to four campuses Los Angeles, Pomona, Sacramento and San Francisco should emphasize higher wages, more manageable workloads and increased parental leave.
Union University says it has money in its “flush reserve accounts” and can afford the salary increase with funds from operating cash surpluses and $766 million in CSU emergency reserves.
Leora Friedman, CSU's vice chancellor for human resources, said Friday that those reserve funds cannot be tapped for pay raises because they are used for times of economic uncertainty or emergencies, including wildfires or earthquakes.
“We have made several concessions with the movement, most recently a 15% increase will be paid over three years, while teachers are given a 5% increase every year. But the faculty union has not moved its 12% demand for just one year,” he said.
The increase sought by the union would cost the system $380 million in new recurring costs, which the university cannot afford, Friedman said.
Cal State Los Angeles student Katerina Navarro said she supports the strike. Monday was the first day of classes in her nursing program, and she was surprised her classes weren't canceled.
“Some more money needs to be invested in salaries and educational resources because people in education are underpaid for the work they do,” said Navarro, who was underpaid when he worked as a teacher abroad. Both his mother and sister are teachers.
Last year, there was a lot of labor activity in the country Health professionals, Hollywood actors and writers And Car workers Strike for better wages and working conditions.
In California, new laws are in place for workers Paid sick leave As well as pay rise Health care And Fast food workers.
In 2022, teaching assistants and graduate student workers University of California System He went on strike for a month, disrupting classes as the fall semester ended.
The Teamsters had planned to join the local strike, but this story has been corrected to show that an agreement was reached on Friday.
Associated Press writer John Antsak in Los Angeles contributed to this story.