US' Latest Strike Is a Big One

30K California State University workers launch weeklong strike across 23 campuses
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 22, 2024 11:57 AM CST
America's Latest Labor Strike Is Here
California Faculty Association members picket during a strike at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023, in Pomona, Calif. More than 30,000 professors, librarians, plumbers, electricians, and other workers are set to start a weeklong strike on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024.   (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)

More than 30,000 professors, librarians, plumbers, electricians, and other workers at California State University, the largest public university system in the US, walked off the job Monday in a weeklong strike to demand higher wages. The stoppage across Cal State's 23 campuses comes two weeks after CSU officials ended contract negotiations with a unilateral offer of a 5% pay raise effective Jan. 31, far below the 12% hike the union is seeking. With the new semester beginning Monday, the AP reports that some classes were likely to be canceled while others could continue if certain faculty do not strike. The California Faculty Association represents roughly 29,000 workers.

They will be joined on the picket lines by 1,100 CSU skilled trades workers represented by the Teamsters Local 2010, which has also not yet reached a new contract with the university. Cal State Chancellor Mildred Garcia told journalists that the university system had sought to avoid a strike but that the union's salary demands are not viable. "We must work within our financial reality," she said. In December, CFA members staged one-day walkouts on campuses in Los Angeles, Pomona, Sacramento, and San Francisco to press for higher pay, more manageable workloads, and increased parental leave. The union says the university has money in its "flush reserve accounts" and could afford the salary increases.

Leora Freedman, CSU's vice chancellor for human resources, said Friday those reserve funds cannot be tapped for wage hikes because they are meant for times of economic uncertainty or emergencies, including wildfires or earthquakes. "We've made several offers with movement, and most recently a 15% increase that would be paid over three years, providing faculty a 5% increase each year. But the faculty union has never moved off its 12% demand for one year only," she said. The increase the union is seeking would cost the system $380 million in new recurring spending, which the university can't afford, Freedman said. The past year has seen health care professionals, Hollywood actors and writers, and auto workers picket for better pay and working conditions.

(More labor strike stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.