Monday, April 02, 2007

Spreading the news: CSU faculty ready to strike

Four years ago this February, I was the acting WPA at SIUC, and I was a member of a faculty union that was poised to go on strike. It was a pretty intense time.

So I'm standing in full solidarity here with the California State University faculty, who, with an amazing "81% voter turnout on the 23 CSU campuses" voted to authorize a strike, should the California Faculty Association and the CSU administration fail to reach an agreement.

The CSU faculty are protesting against the local affects of a wide-spread trend: budgets for instruction have decreased as budgets for administration and research (read: big grant-grabbing research) have increased. From the California Chronicle article linked to above:

John Travis, President of the California Faculty Association, said, “Today, the faculty has spoken loud and clear . . . they want a return to a true focus on the mission of the university — the instruction of students. . . We need to make real progress toward paying the CSU faculty at the same level as our peers around the country. We know this administration has the financial flexibility to make it happen, but they choose not to. If they don’t find the will to reorder their priorities, we don’t want to strike but we will.”

(A little aside: I'm especially interested in the "financial flexibility" piece of this statement. I've been thinking for a long time that the best way for faculty to gain real economic power at universities is to really trace the economies of their institutions. Rather than depend solely on abstractions (as has been the tendency, alas, in much of the literature on the corporatization of the university), faculty would be in position to make much better arguments for reallocation of funds if they can actually see how the money circulates and the different levels (university, legislatures, alumni, etc.) at which information needs to be disseminated.)

Shehun asks that we keep the news circulating. And so I am.

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