Friday, March 18, 2011

Cal State faculty vs the administration

The California State University (CSU) faculty, represented by the California Faculty Association (CFA), are now negotiating a new contract with the CSU administration. The following was written by Henry Reichman Professor Emeritus of History, East Bay, a member of the CFA Bargaining Team.
CSU administrators have claimed that with benefits and payroll making up 85 percent of the CSU’s expenditures, “we have to reduce the amount we’re spending on salaries and benefits.”

According to the CSU’s own audited financial statements posted on the Web, however, only about “35% of the University’s total operating expenses in fiscal year 2010 directly support the primary function of the University, which is instruction.

These direct expenses include only faculty and instructional support staff salaries, benefits, and their direct expenses.” Indeed, Instruction as a whole accounts for just 38 percent of the CSU’s total spending!

Clearly there must be other areas, including bloated administrative salaries, to which the CSU could look for savings before contemplating reductions in faculty and instructional support staff.

This is why it is heartening that the Governor’s budget proposal contains the following language: “The [governor’s] Administration will work with the Office of the Chancellor and the Trustees, as well as stakeholders (including representatives of students and employees), to determine the specific mix of measures that can best accomplish these objectives.”

This means that the CSU administration will not be able to cut the budget as they please, using the excuse of fiscal constraint to implement rash program cuts, ill-conceived “efficiency” schemes, and vague “restructuring proposals” that have little to do with working within the budget and everything to do with an administrative power grab.

Chancellor Reed [head of the CSU] has promised to “work with the administration and the legislature” and “to look at every option and develop a comprehensive plan” to address the budget. In doing so, let me suggest, the Chancellor might consider explaining:
  • Why he has spent $400,000 on an outside lobbyist when the University has its own Government Relations Office in Sacramento with a full-time staff.

  • Why he has has spent about $1 million a year since 2006 on a no-bid contract for an outside consultant to “improve labor relations” (which the consultant has demonstrably not accomplished) when the Chancellor’s Office and all 23 CSU campuses already have a small army of full-time labor relations staff, including a Vice Chancellor paid more than $300,000/year.

  • Why he and other executive approved some $7 million in promotions and “equity” to managerial personnel in 2010, during a crisis, when in the same year he told an independent fact-finder the system could not afford to pay that exact sum to implement the final stage of an equity pay program for faculty that was part of the 2007 CFA/CSU contract.

  • Why highly-paid CSU Presidents receive expensive “car allowances” of more than $12,000 annually when nearly all other Californians maintain, purchase, or lease automobiles at their own expense.

  • And, most importantly, why between 2000 and 2008, as the number of students in the CSU grew by 27 percent, the number of administrators increased by 23 percent while the number of instructional faculty rose by just 11 percent. And why in just one year, between2007 and 2008, as the economic crisis set in, the CSU increased the number of full-time equivalent administrators by 3 percent, but slashed the number of fulltime equivalent faculty by 1 percent, as student enrollment grew by 2 percent.
Perhaps answers to questions like these might better help address the challenge posed to the CSU budget than public threats to reduce student enrollment and cut employee salaries and benefits.

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