VP for Representation
Comments to the CSU Board of Trustees
To the CSU Trustee Committee On Collective Bargaining:
Our members ratified the contract by overwhelming numbers on Friday. I wanted to give my sincere thanks for coming to agreement. For us it wasn’t just the nine months of bargaining but was the culmination of about two years of work. I said throughout bargaining that this was not a good time top pick a fight with your workforce. At the risk being redundant I’m going to repeat things I’ve said previously. Your workforce is your greatest asset. The CSU is a service industry, and it pays in so many countless ways to have those dealing with your facilities and students to be a proud, stable state employee workforce with a secure retirement after many years of dedicated work.
We are all challenged in these times to maintain quality service from top to bottom. The members and represented employees of CSUEU are particularly demoralized. It’s not just that we have to hear about the raises for managers and presidents and vice chancellors when we have gone without, we have a perception problem with the workforce, in Sacramento, and in the public eye, they have seen workload explode, stagnation in their careers, jobs going vacant for years with no plan to fill them. Statistics show the problem of salary inversion, where the longer you work for the CSU the farther behind you fall.
We are also under the increased threat of the nonsensical idea that contractors can do the work better and cheaper. Cheaper, yes, possibly, but not better. Plus it raises the question of what kind of employer the CSU and the state wishes to be. We got a contract but many of these ongoing issues were not addressed. These issues are going to be part of our re-opener discussion. This union is always willing to come to the bargaining table to address our issues. Together we can work to restore quality back to the CSU.
To the CSU Trustees:
I was in Sacramento recently, and a Republican caucus staffer talking about the budget said something quite interesting in his presentation. He said that all the budget cuts to the CSU have been replaced by tuition-fee increases on the students. He even had a chart that reflected this. To begin with, I had to explain that one-third of all increases goes into the student aid fund. This is an experienced, long-time staffer working on the state budget; why didn’t he know this?
I asked him if this had been the case--that there has been no net decrease in funding--then why is the CSU turning away tens of thousands of students and losing staff and faculty in the thousands? I also mentioned that the current cuts are on top of a series of at least three downturns where some campuses have never restored classes cut 20 years ago. All he had to say was that executive compensation and inefficiencies were the major problems in the CSU. I then explained that, considering the number of students and the quality and range of programs we offer, by many measures the CSU is the most efficient public university system in the world, and that it is a real problem if he and the Republican caucus don't know that.
Like I said this morning, we have a serious public image problem, and your committee action in front of the cameras unfortunately just added to it. I appreciated some of the comments this morning about seeing the bigger picture. This is an issue not just in Sacramento and with taxpayers but also with your employees. I get asked why am I failing to get raises for our people in bargaining when managers are getting raises.
I would guess this was also a factor in the recent non-affirmation of former trustee Carter’s re-appointment, even though during this it was painful to hear the posturing on the part of some legislators about how much they suddenly love and value the CSU so much. That love seems pretty distant most of the year, especially when they make their budget decisions.
All of us need to take responsibility for turning our public image around, but as trustees you are especially tasked with this. This public system is in your trust. You are not the “Rubber Stamp” committee for administrative decisions. The cameras are here today. They aren’t always here. The seats in the audience are full, but that is not true for most of your meetings, but regardless, the public is still watching. There will be continuing repercussions for your ill-advised decisions.
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