California Faculty Union goes on Strike

Thursday, Nov 17, thousands of faculty members made history by participating in the first-ever strike of the California State University system.

The message to the Chancellor was loud and clear from six in the morning until dark: “If you don’t start making decisions based on what is right for the 99% this system serves – instead of the 1% of executives and upper managers running the system — these actions will continue.”

At CSU Dominguez Hills in Southern California, 2,000 people over the course of the day picketed the ten gates surrounding the campus.

At CSU East Bay in Northern California, according to published reports, 93% of classes were canceled for the day. Traffic was backed up for over a mile and a half into the city of Hayward. At noon, police were forced to cordon off the main entrance on Carlos Bee Blvd, effectively closing campus for the rest of the day.

“This week, we sent the Chancellor a powerful message,” said CFA President Lillian Taiz, a professor of History at CSU Los Angeles.

Taiz continued, “People are fed up with his ‘management first’ priorities. The CSU community is tired of seeing the Chancellor give huge raises to executives while student fees are hiked, faculty pay is stagnant, class sizes keep growing, and class offerings and faculty jobs are eliminated.

“Huge numbers of people came out to support the faculty this week – students, community members, staff, supporters from other unions, political leaders, and parents.

“Chancellor Reed is out of touch with the needs of the people in the trenches. Instead, he focuses obsessively on the compensation and perks of his presidents and his managers. The time has come for the Chancellor to prioritize the future of the people of California.

by Duane Campbell

CFA is a member of NEA, and SEIU. DSA Honorary Chair Cornel West addressed the strikers and East Bay and joined the picket line.

photo by David Bacon

State and local governments provide the most basic services to our populace – public education, police and fire, transportation, parks, libraries and basic infrastructure, not to mention funding half the costs of unemployment insurance and Medicaid. Yet with state and local governments facing a recession-induced budget shortage of close to $200  billion ( out of annual expenditures of $1.7 trillion dollars), the standard conservative and moderate Democratic solution is to slash essential services. Most localities will witness significant layoffs of police and fire personnel and close to 200,000 of the nation’s 3.4 million K-12 teachers received  pink slips by September 2011.

This fiscal crisis of the states did not fall from the sky; it resulted from the Great Recession brought on by unregulated financial speculation.

Absent renewed federal aid to states and localities, painful recessionary slashing of basic human services will accelerate in 2012.  Increased class sizes, withdrawal of Medicaid services, and cuts in basic uniform services have  devastated  the lives of ordinary working people and will send the economy into a further recessionary downturn.

It is clear that democratic policies will not be granted from on-high by politicians funded by corporate interests. They will only come through democratic protest  such as strikes and Occupy Wall Street and mobilization that forces elected officials to serve the people and not powerful private interests. That’s why Democratic Socialists of America will be working with people across the nation to mobilize against state and local cuts in basic human services and in favor of fair tax policies and sane national priorities that put human needs ahead of empire and corporate greed.

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2 Responses

  1. It is a shame the protest organizers are allowed to spread this message with little or no challenge from the media or even from the administration. The real reason for college tuition increases is the never ending escalation of pay and benefits for unionized college personnel. It is ironic that these same professors who get total compensation packages well into the six-figures per year are willing to preach what is essentially communist rhetoric at impressionable students, since they are among the most pampered beneficiaries of capitalism in the history of civilization.

    People who make in excess of $100,000 per year (at the least, when you factor in the costs of funding their pensions which on average are about 5x what you get under social security), take summers off, get several weeks of additional vacation during the school year, teach a few hours of class per week, and retire in their 50’s, should think about taking cuts to their pay and benefits, instead of forcing students to pay higher fees to support their lifestyles. They are hypocrites of the worst kind – willing not only to spew deceptive lies, but to do it to the actual victims of their greed.

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