Oct. 27, 2014Vol. 45, Issue 2

A Fair Contract … and Beyond

Paul Zingg

We have recently learned that a full tentative contract agreement has been reached between the CSU and the CFA and that the contract will now be sent to the faculty for ratification.

This is very welcome news. It reflects the hard work of both parties and reminds us that a contract is more than an agreement between two parties and the constituencies they represent. It is also a statement about shared values and a guide to the steps that must follow in order to enact them. 

Consider what the CFA, Chancellor Tim White, and I have said about shared values and goals:

  • The CFA recognizes that providing educational quality and fostering student success are the most fundamental responsibilities of faculty. Yet, faculty working conditions and student learning achievements are interdependent. The former—workload and compensation—need to be fair in order to bolster morale and to bring the best efforts of our faculty to bear in accomplishing their work for our students.
  • In his January 2014 State of the CSU Address, Chancellor White listed the hiring of more tenure-track faculty as among his top priorities for the CSU. He did so because he recognizes that such faculty are key both to enabling our students to succeed on our campuses and to secure a meaningful future. The CSU must invest in its faculty in order to attract and retain the very best teachers, scholars, and role models that our students deserve.
  • As I stated most recently in my fall convocation address, a university’s record and reputation rest most importantly on its academic reputation. And the heart of an academic reputation is the faculty. This is not an abstract concept. The quality of our faculty directly affects the CSU’s ability to fulfill its mission. High quality and high morale, high performance and high expectations—all go together.    

A fair contract begins with these understandings and affirmations, and there seems to be significant agreement between the negotiating parties in these regards. Similarly, there seems to be broad concurrence with some of the key elements and actions that a new contract would support in order to enable the accomplishment of its goals. These include the following:

  • Both a General Salary Increase for all faculty and individually focused compensation adjustments that address such equity issues as inversion and compression and other aspects of the salary structure for faculty.
  • Both system- and campus-based resources brought to bear in order to support and renew our faculty.
  • Both immediate actions and long-term strategies in order to support and renew our faculty.
  • The use of both base and one-time funds in order to support actions and strategies.

As I stated in my July 17 message to all faculty, and reiterated with specifics at Fall Convocation, we will continue on our campus and in the CSU to explore, encourage, and undertake steps, strategies, and investments that both speak to the shared values and goals of a fair contract and support elements and actions to that effect. 

Our ability and timing to roll out the comprehensive program of faculty support and renewal that we are envisioning and developing with our campus CFA leadership has been contingent upon the terms of a new contract and its ratification by the CFA and the trustees. But with news of the tentative agreement, and anticipating ratification, we will proceed with our planning to do so. We still await, however, details on aspects of the contract agreement, because these will shape our actions. For example, we are told that there is equity funding in the agreement. How equity is delivered, and how much funding will be allocated and for whom have bearing on our campus efforts to address these issues as well.

And as I also emphasized at Fall Convocation, the template we adopt for faculty support and renewal will guide our efforts to do so with staff, too.

Our faculty and staff deserve our best efforts to demonstrate appreciation for what they are accomplishing and to strengthen their confidence in the University’s commitment to them. As the CFA, the chancellor, and I have been saying, there is too much at stake not to succeed in these matters.

Paul J. Zingg