- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A key report released Monday calls on California State University to give faculty members the pay raises they’ve requested as the two sides prepare for a five-day strike if they can’t reach an agreement.

Faculty cheered the independent assessment, but the release of the fact-finding report doesn’t mean the two sides are any closer to settlement.

Administration officials said Monday the university does not have an additional $70 million to spend on pay this year. They also rejected a suggestion in the report to divert money from other programs or delay new projects.

The system’s 23 campuses enroll about 460,000 students, making it the nation’s largest public university. A five-day strike scheduled for April would be by far the system’s largest walkout since professors and instructors won collective bargaining rights in the early 1980s.

California Faculty Association members are in the second year of a three-year contract that included across-the-board raises of 1.6 percent, along with 3 percent raises for some faculty for the 2014-15 schoolyear.

The faculty association is seeking a 5 percent salary increase for 2015-16, as well as other salary adjustments. The university is offering 2 percent raises.

Monday’s report found the great recession severely affected faculty pay as members gave up negotiated raises, and endured a 10 percent cut by taking furlough days in 2009-10.

Giving the requested raises, the report stated, “is in the interest of students, who need caring faculty, and certainly in the public interest as our country needs a well-educated population.”

But Chancellor Timothy P. White said Monday new students have been accepted for the fall, and diverting money would result in reduced offerings - core classes and advising - that students need to graduate. California State’s operating budget is about $4.8 billion.

Faculty members said at a news conference Monday the administration needs to make teaching a priority. The walkouts are scheduled for April 13-15 and 18-19, with more being considered if the administration refuses to budge.

“This is an emergency, and the faculty are in survival mode,” association President Jennifer Eagan said.

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