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California Faculty Strike Averted; Raise In Deal

Ben Margot / AP

Faculty and students of California State University East Bay picket the entrance to the campus as part of a strike Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011 in Hayward, Calif. Hundreds of California State University faculty members strike on two CSU campuses.

Ben Margot / AP

Update at 1:35pm: There will be no California State University faculty strike next week.

The CSU and the California Faculty Association say they’ve reached a tentative agreement that includes a 10.5 percent raise for instructors – and retiree cost savings for the university.

The agreement spreads the raises out over three fiscal years by using some convenient scheduling: 5 percent on June 30th; 2 percent the very next day (July 1, the start of a new fiscal year); and 3.5 percent on July 1, 2017.

Chancellor Timothy White says that will allow the university to spread the raises out over three fiscal years.

“It was the addition of time in the agreement that was the instrumental aspect of our discussions that created a new environment for us to find a solution together,” White said on a conference call with the union announcing the deal.

Faculty association president Jennifer Eagen called the deal a compromise – but also claimed victory:

“The faculty spoke up for five percent – and got it,” she said. “I think this agreement represents compromise on both sides and a commitment to economic security and stability for faculty moving forward.”

The deal also doubles the vesting period for retiree health benefits – from five years to 10 years – for new employees hired after July 1, 2017.

“To be honest, nobody wanted to strike, says White, adding the deal “came into focus” over the last week. “The faculty didn’t want to strike. I didn’t want to strike. This is a very good thing to have averted that interruption.”

Faculty members will vote on the deal later this month. If it's approved, it would go before CSU trustees at their May board meeting.

Original story (AP) - California State University officials and the union that represents faculty members say the agreement that forestalled a 23-campus strike would increase salaries by 10.5 percent over three years and double how long it takes newly hired instructors to be eligible for retirement benefits.

The tentative deal announced Friday represents a compromise between the 26,000 member California Faculty Association and the nation's largest public university system and comes as both sides girded for an unprecedented five-day work stoppage next week.

The faculty association, which represents professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches, had scheduled a systemwide strike starting Wednesday to protest the size of the pay increases the university planned to give its members this year.

Before the agreement was reached, the union had demanded a 5 percent increase for 2015-16. The university had said it could only afford 2 percent.

Union members still must ratify the deal.