The fact-finding report on the negotiations between the California State University and the California Faculty Association (CFA) was unacceptable to the CSU because it lacked factual accuracy and any sense of compromise. Released today (Jan. 2), the non-binding report, which is designed to facilitate negotiations between the two parties, completes the final phase in the collective bargaining process.
"The majority opinion of the fact-finding report was flawed and was not helpful in the California State University's efforts to reach an agreement with the faculty union," said Sam Strafaci, senior director of employee relations and chief negotiator for the CSU. "Throughout negotiations, merit pay has been the main unresolved issue. The trustees, the chancellor and the presidents are committed to merit pay as a way to improve the quality of the CSU and to reward outstanding faculty performance."
CSU officials disagreed strongly with the recommendations of the majority opinion of the fact- finding report, noting that it offered no compromise on disputed issues, in some cases was based on inaccurate assumptions and factual errors, and included recommendations neither the CSU nor CFA requested. It is not uncommon for one party to disagree with the recommendations of the report. Two years ago, when the CSU and CFA had completed the fact-finding process, the CFA did not agree with the recommendations of that report.
According to the CSU, the report has several flaws. First is the recommendation to discontinue merit pay. The current merit pay program was agreed to by the CFA and is in their current contract, which expires at the end of June 2001. All of the agreed-upon budget conditions – specifically, funds for a six percent salary pool increase -- were met, so any recommendation to discontinue the merit pay program is inappropriate.
Second, the report questions the concept of merit pay, citing concerns about not having predetermined and measurable evaluation criteria. There was no evidence at the fact-finding hearing to support this claim, and the faculty contract clearly states the criteria for evaluation, with a heavy focus on teaching, which was recommended by the CSU systemwide Academic Senate. In fact, teaching is the main evaluation criteria in the long-standing tenure and promotion process at the CSU and elsewhere in higher education.
Third, the report suggests faculty may not be fully aware of the merit pay program. However, the program is widely and repeatedly publicized at the campuses, and the fact that about 85 percent of full- time faculty apply for the award annually demonstrates that faculty are well aware of the program.
Other issues include military rounding of salaries to the nearest $100, which neither the CFA nor CSU consider a relevant issue, and the distribution of salary savings from faculty turnover, which the CSU relies upon for faculty replacement costs.
The CFA contract has included a merit pay program since 1995. The current program uses 40 percent of the entire faculty salary increase pool for merit increases and service salary increases, and the other 60 percent is allocated to across-the-board increases.
The CSU's proposed six percent increase to the faculty salary pool would increase the average salary for full professors -- who comprise about 60 percent of the CSU faculty -- to more than $80,000, and increase the average salary for all tenure track faculty to nearly $72,000.
The CSU and CFA have been bargaining since February, and merit pay has been the main issue that has prevented an agreement. During negotiations, the CSU proposed revisions to the merit pay system, but the CFA insisted on discontinuing it. All of the universities with which the CSU compares itself for salary purposes, and most universities in the nation, have merit pay systems similar to the CSU. In fact, all represented and non-represented CSU employees are compensated in part based on merit.
The CSU and CFA went through a series of phases in the collective bargaining process. At one point, the CFA publicly claimed that merit pay discriminated against women, but CSU provided testimony of a labor economist who found those allegations to be completely untrue. In September, the parties entered fact finding. That process included hearings before a three-member fact-finding panel, consisting of a CSU representative, a CFA representative and a fact-finder appointed by the Public Employment Relations Board. The fact-finder then issued a report with recommendations designed to facilitate negotiations between the two parties.
The Fact-Finding report may be found at http://www.calstate.edu/tier3/emprel
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