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Cal Poly strike looms as CSU and faculty union are still gridlocked 

It’s becoming increasingly likely that faculty picket lines and five days of canceled classes will be the focus of the Cal Poly Open House in April.

On March 28, the California Faculty Association (CFA) announced that the release of a final independent fact-finding report and the ensuing 10-day “blackout” negotiating period resulted in no compromises or common ground between the California State University system and the CFA.

Bargaining teams didn’t meet during the blackout window, according to Alice Sunshine, CFA communications director, signaling that threatened faculty strikes on every CSU campus for April 13, 14, 15, 18, and 19 may be unavoidable.

Graham Archer, Cal Poly’s CFA president, told New Times that campus union leaders are accelerating strike preparation efforts following the news.

“We’re getting into the details now, like who’s going to be standing where when,” Archer said over the phone while at a gathering for faculty at the Cal Poly library.

Cal Poly Open House weekend, which kicks off on Friday, April 15, would be directly affected by a strike.

“Many departments are moving their events [for Open House] to Saturday because there won’t be faculty to help out,” Archer said. “We’ll be out there talking to parents [about the strike].”

The recently released independent fact-finding report sided with the faculty’s demand of a 5 percent general salary increase. It argued that the raises and salary step increases were “in the interest of students, who need caring faculty, and certainly in the public interest, as our country needs a well-educated population.”

The report concluded that CSU faculty compensation was uncompetitive and that previous raises failed to adequately cover the state’s rising cost of living. To fund the raises, the report suggested the CSU system delay other planned projects and reallocate funds to prioritize faculty pay.

The CSU Chancellor’s Office wrote an official dissent to the report’s conclusion. Though the parties have been engaged in the contract dispute for almost a year, the Chancellor’s Office argued that the timing was wrong to make budget changes for the current academic year.

“The university cannot agree to this when funds for this year have already been distributed to the campuses and are fully committed,” wrote Brad Wells, CSU associate vice chancellor, in the dissent. “Any attempt to pull back from these other high-priority commitments would cause significant harm to students, faculty, and staff, and California.”

Archer told New Times that the five-day strike in April could be just the beginning of faculty strikes. If the CSU system refuses to move from its offer of a 2 percent salary increase, another strike could take place in the fall, during which Archer said he would favor striking until the raises were guaranteed.

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