HEI’s in China & Bangladesh Are More Democratic Than US?

The answer? It depends. Definitely, China’s national government is well known to be autocratic and although the government in Bangladesh could do a lot more to protect the rights of minority populations including the million Rohingya and the 300,000 Tripuri people in Bangladesh, the US also struggles to protect the rights of minorities. It seems that democratic policy development and decision-making is much easier claim as a goal than it is to implement into practice.

Basically, everyone agrees that when you include stakeholders in decision making, it takes longer, but policy decisions are much more effective. When the UNESCO wanted to promote sustainable development in higher education, it called on a range of stakeholders. North American authors such as Michael Fullan, Jennifer Rippner, and Christina Chow & Clement Leung emphasize the importance to include stakeholders in decision making. At our own California State University, Dominguez Hills, our university vision states that the “CSUDH will be a model urban university responsive to and engaged as partners in addressing the most pressing challenges in our local and global communities.” At the College of Education, our mission, vision, and core values emphasize concepts such as “collaborating alongside communities we serve,” “co-creating,” and “collaboration…among all stakeholders.”

Recently, I was privileged to hear a presentation of faculty at Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh who presented their plans to create a masters in education. They described how they had developed a curriculum by engaging with a range of stakeholders to determine the focus of their classes. Wow, now that is democracy.

I also read an article in which Chinese and Czech authors Wang, Yang & Maresova (2020) describe how decision-making among the students, staff, and faculty (some stakeholders) led to a greater awareness and understanding of sustainable development at a Chinese university compared to another Chinese university that was more top-down. They included the a figure to the left (Koester et al., 2006) that represents internal and external stakeholders who should be engaged to promote greater success of any policy for sustainable development according to their literature review.

Recently, our College of Education developed a new policy on Reappointment, Tenure, & Promotion (RTP) as a faculty alone instead of engaging all of our stakeholders. The new policy which claims to be anti-colonial marginalizes the voice of students by reducing the value of student evaluations of professors and marginalizes the voice of our peers by reducing the value of peer reviewed journal articles. The staff and faculty in the Teacher Education Department is also in the midst of developing a new teacher credentialing curriculum without the engagement of stakeholders. Given our mission to be a “model” university, to “collaborate,” and “co-create,” I think we could do better and I hope that future curricular and policy decisions will be more democratic engaging more stakeholders.

So back to the question in the title of this post, Are Higher Education Institutions in China and Bangladesh more Democratic Than those in the US? It depends….not on the mission or vision statement, but on the engagement and dialogue of stakeholders concerning policy or curricular matters. As Peter Mayo (2020) suggests, “Praxis…finds a place in any organization or movement striving for the greater democratization of society. Democracy is seen here…as an ongoing process for the enfranchisement of different members of society.” In the context of the university, we professors are the powerful. If we are to transform and act in ways consistent with democracy and praxis, we must include more stakeholders in curricular and policy decisions.

Koester, R.J.; Eflin, J.; Vann, J. Greening of the campus: A whole-systems approach. J. Clean. Prod. 2006, 14, 769–779.

Mayo, P. (2020). Praxis in Paulo Freire’s Emancipatory Politics. International Critical Thought, 10(3), 454–472. https://doi.org/10.1080/21598282.2020.1846585

Yang, M. & Maresova, P. (2020). Sustainable Development at Higher Education in China: A Comparative Study of Students’ Perception in Public and Private Universities. Sustainability. 12. 2158. 10.3390/su12062158.

The Decline of War, Famine, and Pestilence: Is Man Now God?

Throughout almost all of human existence, survival by avoiding war, famine, and disease had to be the main focus of our lives. One hundred years ago, people were in constant knowledge that they could be struck down by some physical malady and mysteriously die in a week or days. Case in point, when I was 17 doctors took out my appendix. One hundred years earlier, I just would have died without a lot of explanation. The Black Plague killed half of the people in some towns in a matter of days. After Columbus arrived in the Americas, it is estimated that over the course of 150 years, 80-90% of Native Americans died from small pox and other diseases. Horrible as the COVID was, it only took a year to develop medical advances that significantly reduced the fatality rate. So basically, we don’t have to worry so much about dying next week from disease.

In a similar way, until 200 hundred years ago, a person was aware that war and violence could take their whole family or town at any moment. In the 14th century, roving bands of thieves simply killed all and took as much as they pleased. For example, the Vikings sailed up to the ports killing all they could and taking the wealth of the community of England and northern Europe.

Previously, people also knew that individual violence whether it be from the ruler of the area, thieves, or rivals could strike in the night unannounced at any time. While we are increasingly aware and shocked by violence and war today, Harari, in his book Homo Deus, puts it all into proportion by noting that in 2012 when 56 million people died only 120,000 died from war and 500,000 died from crime. So actually less than 2% of the deaths were caused by violence. So while violence is still a problem, compared to the 800,000 who died of suicide and 1.5 million who died of diabetes, it becomes clear that we need to shift our attention to focus more on mental and physical health needs of people.

Finally, people in the past were always aware that in any year, storms, draught, animals, or insects at any time might play a role to reduce the food any community had. Money, if it existed at all, it was somewhat unreliable as was transportation of food to different areas of famine. We still have pockets of malnutrition today in America where 1 in 5 children are at risk and especially among children in developing countries; however, compared to for example the late 1600s in which between 15% and 30% of the populations in Europe starved, many fewer people starve today. In fact, the opposite might be true. Maybe we are eating ourselves to death. Harai estimates that half of the people on the earth are estimated to be overweight by 2030. We also know that being overweight puts people at a greater risk of heart attacks and cancer. So it appears to that having too much food is a much greater problem than having too little food.

Because man no longer has to worry so much about disease, war, and famine, Harari suggests that ‘man is god’ and will play a larger role in the future of the world. Since one of the main goals of critical literacies is to provide different perspectives as a way of comprehending texts, below I focus briefly on two different perspectives that challenge the status quo. First, as chronicled above, in Homo Deus, Harari challenges the status quo perception that the world is getting worse. Even with COVID, inequity, racial tensions, hunger, and worries about clean water, the long arc of history is bending so that people can focus much less on survival and much more on enriching their lives. Harari’s comments challenge the status quo view that the world is getting worse and worse.

Secondly, while Harari’s book Homo Deus (translated from Latin as man god) implies that man will be god of the future. On the contrary, it seems that we were never more in need of the inspiration of God to guide us on the path of freedom, peace, joy, mercy, care, and equity. The glory that comes from domination, wealth, or national pride is not God inspired and leads to dishonor and perdition. When we serve God, we are free from the need to impress others, free from the need for fancy cars or homes. If man is so dominant in our world as Harari suggests, without spiritual inspiration, man’s selfish nature will lead to self-destruction. Man’s values of prestige and status will never make us happy. We need to find our joy and hope in serving others. We are made in the image of God, but unless we pursue His spirit and goals, we will be unsatisfied. So as man becomes more in control of his world, he needs God’s inspiration more than ever. OK more on this later….

We don’t need to spend money on more ways to kill others

I urge you all to send a note to your senator to vote no on the National Defense Authorization Action for Fiscal Year 2023. As Martin Luther King reminds us that, “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world: my own government, I can not be silent.” We need to spend more money on life giving areas of the budget for housing, food, clean water, education, and health for our own country and countries around the world. So cut and paste this message below or write your own today:

I urge you to vote NO on the NDAA bill that has been passed by the House. With a $857 billion dollar budget ($2596 per citizen), the United States outspends the next 10 countries combined and is threatening to other countries. We need to convince countries to do what is right based on the merits and not on our own self interest or on the self interest of the government officials of other countries.

Seeing our budget and not wanting to be intimidated by the US military power, other countries will increase their military budgets which will inch us always closer to military solutions to problems instead of solutions to problems based on what is right for all.

With the money we save, we:

  1. could spend to provide security, feed, and provide clean water for those who don’t have it,
  2. would solve problems of immigration for us and provide a much higher quality of life for others around the world,
  3. should also do it because we are bleeding Americans with high taxes for weapons that are not improving the quality of life for Americans,
  4. would generate so much goodwill in the world from people, that no one would want to attack our country or create instability abroad.

We do not want to be the ivory tower: Professors need to have job experience in the areas they teach

Currently, our Teacher Education Department has a search for a science educator tenure track professor.  The California State University Dominguez Hills Faculty Affairs Department (personnel for faculty) has informed us that the search committee may not require an applicant for that position to have taught science in the US to be a professor of teacher education for science instruction.  For the last couple of years, we have requested that they approve our posting for a science educator with the requirement that the applicant needs to have taught for 3 years. They won’t. Here’s why that is a bad idea.

Here’s the rationale:

  1. Experience is an essential component of knowing how to do something.  Why would we hire a person who is not an expert in their area? 
  2. A professor without experience in K-12 US schools would not have credibility to the students.  One of our current professors has impressed on us that  her teaching in Nigeria did not prepare her to teach teacher candidates in the US.  The university is already known to be the ‘ivory tower’ because too many times, classes do not address real world problems. This new policy of prohibiting the requirement for applicants of tenure track jobs to have experience teaching will increase the students’ perceptions that what professors teach does not reflect what teachers need to teach.
  3. More experience means more expertise. It also seems that a person who has taught 10 years or so should be given weight on their application for the wisdom they have experienced in schools.  Schools cycle through different waves of teaching methods, policies, state standards, textbooks, trade books, and management systems over 10 year’s time and someone with that experience would be more credible and more helpful to teacher candidates that they teach.
  4. Finally, those with lots of experience teaching have an intuitive understanding of classroom contexts and can advise teacher candidates in a much more complex and grounded way.

Addressing arguments against:

  1. The fear of having to hire someone is a straw man argument.  Requiring 3 years of teaching to be a teacher educator does not exclude or discriminate against Green Card Residents or non-residents of the United States.  My wife who is now 60 years old was a Green Card holder for 37 years and never had to answer any questions about her status during the interview process when being hired in the public schools or in the CSU.  It also doesn’t exclude non-residents and citizens of other countries.  Now there will be some extra steps employers and non-residents/citizens need to take to get the right visa, but it doesn’t exclude them.  You might have hear of someone who challenges the process as being exclusionary and then we end up with a professor we don’t want, but it is much more objectionable to be stuck with professors who have experience in the areas they have to be experts in.
  2. Our understanding is that we might have to go through an audit if we get flagged on requiring that a professor have experience in the area in which they are teaching.  Bring on the audit.  Again, it’s preferable to stand on principles as faculty and staff at Dominguez Hills have always done rather than sink into mediocrity. 
  3. I would hate for the public to find out that we cannot require professors have experience in the jobs they are preparing candidates for.  We will lose credibility among students and in the general public if they were to find this out.  In contrast, we will gain credibility if we challenge this notion.

Please let me know if you think professors should have classroom teaching experience in US schools in order to be considered to be professors of teacher education.

Timing is Everything in CSU/CFA Negotiations – A Path Forward

Essentially negotiations start 18 months into the process.

Real negotiation starts when the CSU administration thinks the CFA has leverage. In the first 18 months of negotiation, without an impasse or threat of mediation, or job actions, the CSU will stall. So the path forward is to only expect progress after the two or three months after the impasse and set a date and prepare for job actions that increase in time and severity over the next 6 months or so. Don’t misunderstand. You have to poll members, plan a strategy, and set goals, but you most likely won’t see any progress until you have leverage. The idea behind the information and job actions campaign is that when the administration sees that the longer they stall, the more severe and frequent the job actions will be….and they will likely provide better offers earlier and then increase them as long as we hold out. But you can’t organize job actions until well after to the impasse.

Job actions should be creative and increasing in severity and frequency as time passes. Here’s an example:

  1. Starting with week 1, we don’t read or answer email and no meetings on Fridays until we get a contract. It’s our writing day and we have to focus.
  2. Starts week 3, rolling strike at one campus for one day. The next week two other campuses using different days. The following week, three other campuses.
  3. Starting week 6, no professor is available for meetings on any day.
  4. Starting week 8, our demand for increase in the General Salary Increase goes up 1% for every year negotiated for every week we go without contract.
  5. Week 9, professors are encouraged to teach remotely all classes unless there is a rolling strike that day. (You can teach up to 5 classes remotely in a face to face class.)
  6. Week 12, the rolling strike that has no classes one day a week, becomes no classes two different days a week.

And so on. If it’s planned in advance the administration will try to settle early. For faculty, it’s better to keep planning and waiting. So the time to plan has to happen fast because we are only allowed to plan a month or two after the impasse. So the example above is not what we plan to do. It’s meant only for illustration of what a plan of increased CFA expectations and actions might look like.

WHAT NOT TO DO ON THE PATH FORWARD

Don’t whine and complain that the administration has too many employees (they do), gets too much money (they do), or don’t respect faculty (well…). You can point it out and make fun of it, just don’t whine. They are in a ‘rich guy & gal’s club’ with the Trustees of the CSU. The trustees need the rock hard loyalty of the presidents and vice presidents. Other administrators are expected to be disinterested. It is essentially a bribe. I am not saying I am above it or that it’s not complicated. I’m just calling it what it is. If upper level administrators violate that loyalty rule, they will not stay for long and lower level administrators will not move up. Simple. Don’t ask for their loyalty. It’s like giving them administrator poison and saying, “if you love us, you will poison yourself.”

Don’t act unprofessionally. Dress professionally. T-shirts were always a bad idea. Do you wear t-shirts when you teach? Well, some people do and maybe it seems cool or counter-cultural to college students who are used to shirt and tie high school teachers. When you express your views, look good, look attractive. Have some dignity.

Secondly, don’t expect to have large crowds of people marching and chanting with you. This is the information age. Let’s get the message out with social media and with some comedy & creativity like the style of The Onion, John Oliver or Trevor Noah. Professors like well thought out arguments-not signs. Do not go into the president’s office with a sign. That implies bullying. That is not who we are.

Third, don’t be frustrated or upset at what the administration does unless it’s illegal or immoral. We are all adults and we know how this goes. Just remember those injustices and during the polling before negotiation describe what happened. Then set out out a very general plan for job actions. (You can’t plan or organize job actions until a month or two after the impasse.)

So the path forward, is to negotiate, but don’t expect the CSU to bring a good offer. Every negotiation is the same. The CSU stalls, gives low ball offers, and is “unprepared” to negotiate for the first 18 months. The purpose of that stalling is to reframe negotiations as starting a year later and thus not having to pay a cost of living increase that first year (like in our last contract). The second purpose is to make the faculty a little more frantic that we are not going to get a good contract (again, like in our last contract). Then when a little more is offered, then out of desperation, the faculty will accept that little increase (like this past year when we took the offer of 4% guaranteed COLA for 4 contract years when inflation was 5.7-7% and growing). Our strategy then was people are tired of waiting, let’s “put some money in their pockets.” We need to have patience and start the real negotiation when we have leverage. CFA describes the process here.

You probably have heard that in the next 8 months (March 2023?), the CFA will begin negotiations for the 2023-2024 part of our 4 year contract. Real negotiations will begin 18-20 months later. We need to declare an impasse as soon as possible. In November 2024, real negotiation will begin and we need to be thinking about cool job actions in the spring of 2025.

Prepare to be shocked!

So when administration low balls, arrives unprepared, and is not ready to discuss the different part of the contract, just pour your favorite drink in your coffee cup and relax. No meaningful negotiation will go on. If you want to read more about some failings of the last contract, read my previous posts in criticalliteries.net. Let’s not dwell on the past. Let’s learn from it. If there is any thing we learned from the past negotiations, it’s that we need to extend that time a month or two after impasse and use our leverage to get a better contract. That is the path forward.

A Path Forward on the Negotiation of a CFA-CSU Contract

Current inflation is 8.5%, but our increase is only 3%.

First of all, I do not have a degree is Labor Studies and all of my understanding about contracts comes from my 45 years as an educator. I hope that some people will respond to this post and inform me about ways that my thinking can be improved. I also want to say that the CSU-CFA contract is unique and probably different from other negotiation settings.

So over the last 24 years, I have noticed a similar tactic by the CSU. The CSU administration comes in unprepared when negotiations start and for the first 18 months. They discuss several of the less important issues. They always come in with low ball offers and essentially very little change. That period lasts about 22 months. During that time the negotiating team reports to the CFA members frustration at the CSU indifference and lack of a decent offer. During the last 6 months of that 22 month period, the mediator will find that the CSU offer is too low and the faculty continue to work without a contract. At that point the faculty are allowed by law to do a job action such as rotating strikes on different campuses or eventually declare a date that the CFA will strike. So in this last contract, the CSU offered of 2% Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) total over 3 years.

  1. In the 2020-2021 year we received $3500 COVID money that was not added to the base pay. That’s like nothing because we were owed that from the federal government already. The money flowed through the state. That should have been on top of COLA. Police got it. Doctors and nurses got it. Schools, the unemployed, and small businesses got it. California received $14,000 per capita. Professors got $3500 and no COLA. Since the $3500 is not added to the base pay, it does not increase the future earnings. So if you are 35 years old and will work for another 30 years, retire at 65 and then live off your pension for 30 years until 95 years old, that $3500 averages out to $58 dollars per year. So nothing. And we will have to pay taxes on the increased national debt that is generated by COVID. However, if the CSU were to have offered 1% COLA for an $80,000 salary, that equals $800 per year for a total of $48,000 over 60 years. During that year, inflation was 2% so a normal COLA would be $96,000. $96,000 vs. $3500. We got scammed. (I know the math is not perfect.) The path forward is recover that 2% in the next negotiations.
  2. In the 2021-2022 year, we received 4% and the inflation at that time was 5.7%. Now it’s 8.5%. So we lost between 2.7% and 4.5% adjusted for inflation. Step increases are something workers get for longevity so they should not be calculated in the increase. No increases were given for those who have gone through their steps. Also, those promoted would receive 9% increase. That used to be 7%. That happens once or twice in a career. The path forward is to recover the 3% or 4% lost to inflation.
  3. We will get 3% this year (2022-2023), but inflation is 8.5%. The path forward to to recover the 5.5% in the next negotiations.
  4. In 2023-2024, negotiations will open up again and you can expect the CSU to stall for the first 18 months giving a low ball offer. It’s what they always do. The problem is that since we are under contract until 5/2024 and so we have no leverage to impose job actions. Mediation might start in November of 2024. Without a contract, the CFA will hurry to accept any offer to “put money in the hands of the professors.” The other problem is that the state budget will be drastically down because the state will lose all of the federal COVID money. Professors will look at that and deduct that the state has a tight budget. We need to tighten our belts as well and accept less. In February of 2025, the CSU will offer something and we will take it. No. Let’s not do that. The path forward is to insist on a 11.5% increase that we lost due to inflation over the during the first 3 years of the contract. Then ask for COLA for the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 year.

So, this path forward does not compensate professors for the 17% we lost to inflation in the previous 20 years; however, it does help professors afford cost of living increase in housing, food, childcare, vehicules, and other costs. We don’t want more money. We just want to keep up with inflation.

More of the path forward.

OK now how to do that. First of all, the CFA representative have to stop intimidating professors who have a diverse point of view. Let’s allow for freedom of thought without intimidation. If you have an argument, make it! No personal attacks. I am not some kind of negative person or angry. I just want a fair contract that is adjusted for inflation.

Paid CFA representatives should take on one additional university and more money needs to be spent on a statistic person who points out the historical inequity of salaries between:

  1. the CSU administration and the professors,
  2. the cost of living in California, stories of assistant professors and their struggle,
  3. the difference between other public employees in California with a Ph.D
  4. and our current pay, and the difference between other private employees in California with a Ph.D. and our current pay.

Then we need someone who can do design and marketing to get information out to our professors and the public in general in easy to understand ways. Right now, professors are trusting the CFA (bad idea) and attracted to shiny objects instead of solid arguments. We also have to find a way to let different perspectives on the contract to be heard. Currently, the CFA is the only organization that puts out information and then they do not allow others to see the email addresses of other faculty members in their own college, university or other universities. My mother left East Germany when only one point of view was allowed. We pay a lot of money in dues and the services we get from the CFA are inadequate.

Also, we have to stop whining about how bad the CSU is. They are just doing their job in negotiations. Now let’s do our job. As long as we accept their bad offers, it’s our own fault.

You want social equity? This is the path forward.

P.S. I expect that the CSU and CFA will try to suppress these ideas. We need to get them out. So please respond to these ideas by adding or by pointing out fallacies of logic.

Shiny New Tentative CSU-CFA Contract=New Kitchen?

Happy New Year! We finally got a shiny new tentative contract between the California State University and the California Faculty Association (professors). Possible 10% raise plus $3500 by July? Should you be looking to remodel the kitchen or will you be paying the increases in your rent, food, water, electricity, gas, dental and medical bills? Below, see what the previous CFA offer was and what we got:

Contract YearCFA originally asked for
Bold = didn’t get it
Tentative Contract
2020-20214% GSI and 2.65% SSI or PPI$3500 one time and not added to base pay
2021-20224% GSI and 2.65% SSI or PPI
2022-20234% GSI and 2.65% SSI or PPIUnlikely 4% increase in GSI unless the state provides $300 million in “unallocated funds” (see contract).  The governor’s proposed budget has a $385 million increase for the CSU general fund, but CSU has to be focused on student centered priorities of finishing in 4 years and equity.  4% increase in salary would cost $90 million.
2023-2024-was this year added?Re-opener means CFA opens negotiations starting June of 2023 for 2023-2024 yearBased on this past 21 month negotiation, I’m guessing CSU will stall for a year or two and we will get nothing.

GSI = general salary increase for all professors
SSI = Salary Step Increase (Mostly for those not full professor) 
PPI = Post Promotion Increase (for full professors or the equivalent)

Other contract issues…what did we get?

Parental leave?
Limiting class size?
 No, sorry
LecturerIf lecturers get an offer from another university, the dept committee could offer a tenure track position if no search is underway.  If a search is underway, lecturers ‘should’ get an interview.  That is it…Unimpressive. 
Diversity & EquityJoint statewide committee will exchange ideas and report.  Profs can rebutt student evals or add information if possible student bias seems to exist. Wait that’s the equity and justice part???  Does this result match the CFA hype?
PromotionInstead of at least 7.5% increase for a promotion, it’s 9% …Not that shiny.

OK, so in the next few months we would get a pile of money, but little for last year and questionable increase equal to inflation in the subsequent 2 years.  This is a contract that probably won’t keep us even with the rising cost of living.  So based on my 23 years in the CSU, the phrase that comes to mind is, “Fool me once, shame on you.Fool me twice, shame on me” (Go to 1:55).

It’s a bad deal.  I propose we vote no and proceed with job actions to get a contract that will result in guaranteed pay tied to inflation with steps (SSI) and post promotion increases (PPI).  Again, we are not bargaining for an increase in pay.  We just don’t want our salary to go down to not go down.

Gettin’ Into the WeedsThis year, the CSU-CFA tentative agreement only guaranteed total of 4% for a 4 year contract.  Inflation is 7% now so we are likely going to lose 3% buying power this year, 1.5% last year, and who knows how much the next two years.  It seems like we are getting more every year, but costs keep going up faster than our wage. 

In the last 20 years we have lost 17%.  This contract we will lose at least 5% more.  We are on a bad road here.  Meanwhile, the chancellor took a 31% raise (receiving more than the governor and the president combined).  According to CFA, presidents will be able to get 10% each year for the next three years.  LA police and fire fighters earn more than 75% more than the national average.  California costs over 40% more than the national standard of living.  And the state has a $67 billion surplus.  Social Security went up 5.9% this month.  Some will say that this is inaccurate.  Easy to say, but hard to prove.  The verifiable links are all in the November and December http://criticalliteracies.net blog.

The $3500 is a quick fix payday bribe.  It looks good in the short run because we get some cash now, but it’s not added to the base pay or future pension payouts.  Even 1% increase would be better because you get that approximately $1000 every year for the rest of your life. (Last year inflation was about 1.5%)

The 4% promised for next year and the following year is contingent and not guaranteed. Here’s the problem:

  1. There is pattern of promising and not delivering.  Are you going to trust an organization that offered 2% total for of a 3 year contract (2020-2023) during the first 21 months of contract negotiation? 
  2. Part of the 5% increase ($385 million) the state is allocates to the CSUs will partly be eaten up with ongoing costs due to the current 7% inflation. 
  3. The 5% increase to the CSU is based on a “multiyear compact” with the state to “emphasize student-centered priorities” (Page 47 of the governor’s proposed budget). All good things, but it’s not professor salaries.  We have to survive too.
  4. Finally, the governor’s proposed 2022-2023 budget represents an overall decrease of 19.3% which is 2 billion dollars (See governor’s proposed budget page 46).  The CSU received one time COVID funds as a supplement to the ongoing general funds to help with extra expenses as a result of COVID; however, I fear that the payment of those funds will result in ongoing obligations the CSU will have in the future.

So let’s not be fooled.  Let’s start on serious negotiations and “let the wild rumpus” begin (Maurice Sendak)!

We Won’t Accept Salary Below the Cost of Living


I just saw the December 8 CFA Bargaining News containing the CFA proposal for:

  1. COVID Service Increase for 2020-2021 (Whatever that is.)
  2. 4% for 2021-2022 (Good)
  3. 4% for 2022-2023 depending on an increase in CSU funds (CSU always does this and we never get the increase.)
  4. 2.65% each of those years for 3 years for people who qualify (Good for some people who will get this.)

The previous California Faculty Association proposal was 4% for each of 3 years 2020 to 2023 and 2.65% for some who experience salary compression etc. So they the bargaining team has reduced the faculty position by probably 7%.

In the last 20 years, our cost of living increases (37%) do not equal to the cost of living increases as measured by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (54% cost of living increases in 20 years).  
California is expensive and our cost of living is 40% higher than other places.  Police and fire fighters have received higher wages than the national average to compensate for higher California costs.  
The CSU have made these promises in the past opening negotiations if they get an increase in state funding.  In my experience, they never deliver.  Never.  Total smoke and mirrors show.  We fell for those promises before….not any more.  
The CSU execs got 30%, UC lecturers got 30%, and the state budget went up 22% ($67 billion dollars).  Four percent increase only costs $90 million.  The state can afford it.  
To see where I get these figures, go to my November post at: http://criticalliteracies.net I encourage you to tell the bargaining group, that they must stick to the original proposals of 4% for 3 years and the 2.65% for some.  This backtracking on salary is not acceptable and we will not vote for any agreement that contains it.

COLI 2Q/21

The Rich Get Richer: CSU Execs Take, But They Don’t Give

Critical literacy addresses injustices in our world and seeks to transform the world to make it a better place. So we call injustice when faculty are offered 2% pay increase and CSU Chancellor Joe Castro and CSU presidents are offered a potential 30% over the next 3 years. Combined with the decrease in wages of 17% over the past 20 years (adjusted for inflation), acceptance of the administration offer would amount to a 20% pay cut for faculty. So CSU execs get 30% increase and faculty get a 20% decrease. All that when the state has a $76 billion surplus. Faculty get paid below the national average for doctoral graduates, at a time when California costs are 49% higher than the national cost of living. Finally, other public service employees have receive salaries that allow them to afford living in California.

Chancellor Joseph Castro took a 31% increase offered the faculty 2% total over a three year period. Presidents also received a large increase; faculty 2%. The state that you pay taxes to has a $76 billion surplus which is a 22% increase; faculty are offered 2%. The cost of living is 49% higher; faculty wage is below the national average. California police and fire fighters receive 60% higher wages than the national average; CSU professors about 5% more than the national average. CSU professors can’t even afford to buy a home in the Bay Area or Southern California.

  1. Professors are below average LA costs are above average.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics average pay for a person with a doctorate degree in 2019 is about $1825 weekly or $94,900 a year. The CSU figures for average for all levels of professor and lecturer is $92,511.  The cost of living in California is 49% higher than the national average and yet the CSU offer seems to indicate that we should receive lower than national average wages.  Do you think our professors are below average?
  2. Our pay increases have not equaled inflation. Inflation for the last 20 years has been 54% (7-01 to 7-21), faculty has only received a total of 37% general salary increases since that time.  So for those hired before 2001, our wages have essentially decreased by 17%.  With inflation at 5.4%, we would give up at least another 3-6% in earning power when the CSU imposes the 2% general salary increase for a total of 20% loss.  So CSU execs get 30% increase and faculty lose 20% buying power.  While private industry wages have increased in the 12 months (measured in 6/21) in LA by 5.4% the CSU wants to give faculty 2% increase total until July 2022.
  3. Executive pay increases are 30% to 36%. CSU Chancellor Castro announced pay for presidents which is currently at $300,000 to $450,000 to be increased by 10% a year for 3 years depending on market data.  UC President Drake’s salary when hired was $890,000 a 36% increase over former UC President Napolitano’s $570,000.  Chancellor Castro started this year with a salary of $625,000, a 31% increase over former Chancellor White’s salary of $477,771.  Most people assume their salary will be lower when first getting hired to a position and then it will increase to a level comparative to experienced employees.  Castro, Drake, & other executives took the salaries of their experienced predecessors and added over 30%.  Castro’s salary is as high as the governor of California (est. $225,000) and the President of the United States ($400,000) combined.  CSU execs get 30% and faculty get 2%.  So next time our chancellor or president calls for justice and equity, you know they don’t practice it.  They are manipulating.  If they believed in justice and equity in their own work place, they would take increases similar to those offered to others at the university.  We have allies though in the CSU Board of Trustees. Seven voted to stay on Santa’s nice list: Abrego, Faigin, Khames, Kimbell, Raynes, Sabalius, & Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis.
  4. Other public jobs have received increases over the national average to compensate for the high cost of living in California.  California police and fire fighters earn an average wage of 60% more than the mean national wage.  If you think that they deserve it or not, you are missing the point.  Police and firefighter pay is adjusted to the cost of living in LA and California which is over 49% higher.  National median pay for postsecondary teachers is $80,560.  Add our 49% higher cost of living, we should be averaging $120,034.
  5. CSU and State is flush with money now. We pay a lot in taxes in California.  Let’s not settle for a below average wage for professors.  The State of California currently has a $76 billion dollar surplus and has received $27 billion in federal aid.  Last year’s budget went from $202 billion to this year’s budget as $262 billion.  That is a 22% increase.  This year the state allocated $550 million in additional funds to the CSU after restoring the $299 million cut from last year.  The 4% increase the CFA proposes would cost $90 million each year for 3 years plus $20 million for steps and post promotion increases (CFA figures).  CSU thinks it will cost $361 million. So the state income goes up 22%, but the CSU administration offers faculty only 2%.

Because this proposal shows such a complete disrespect of the faculty that the Chancellor will not likely be able to recover from, I call for the resignation of Chancellor Joseph Castro.

Critical Literacy: Is Performance Considered Action? 

Critical literacy seeks to transform our lives and the lives of others to support marginalized individuals. So teachers are called to help their students:

  1. identify perspectives and values implicit in texts ,
  2. identify what perspectives are promoted and which are marginalized by the text (or who is favored and who is marginalized),
  3. seek alternative perspectives and values,
  4. take action to transform their lives and the lives of others to a more equitable and just world.

I have always struggled with the fourth step, ‘taking action to transform the world.’ Recent media has been full of discussion about the difference between ‘performative’ acts which signal a person’s stance on an issue without making any real difference.

Ocasio-Cortez as performative?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) attends a $35,000 a plate ‘Met Gala’ with a “TAX THE RICH” message on the back of her dress as a political message performance and then socializes with other rich ‘woke’ leftists. Critics will say that this performance does nothing to create a budget that makes the rich pay more for the government benefits they receive. It doesn’t inform or seek to convince with reasonable facts or ideas. In fact, it may alienate some of the people at the gala by distracting from the purpose of the event which is to celebrate art. The comment may also lead someone to believe incorrectly that the rich are not taxed. On the other hand, the performance does draw public attention to the issue making people consider the idea. It makes the issue important.

Performance is a way people use to ‘signal’ their values and we signal all the time with our words, our clothes, what we buy, what we eat, where we spend, and what we drive. Asking the waitress what their vegan options are may confer high status on an individual depending on the values of the group you are eating with. Driving an electric car, wearing fair trade clothes, and signaling your opposition to a new law usually from somewhere in the South on Facebook, or simply agreeing with another’s views can all be ways of signaling and establishing membership in your group.

Recently, Greta Thunberg complained about the performative nature of Climate Summits recently by talking about what she anticipates people will say and do at the COP26 in Glasgow, [They] “stand on their soap boxes, and yackity-yak-yak-yak” all the while practicing their can kicking skills in their spare time. Oh and COP stands for ‘conference of the parties’ and PARTY they will-do, canapés by the gigaton and flutes of Dom Perignon champagne to puncture the clouds with CO2 bubbles. The righteous bloviating by the concerned parties alone will add a gigaton of GHGs to the atmosphere. And with hangovers all, the conference of the parties will trundle home from Glasgow, quickly to fudge and forget their pledges as they return of a work-a-day Monday morn to their GDPs and always more growth models of biznezazuzul.” In this instance, Thunberg suggests that such a conference may be a performance to make it appear as if government representatives were doing something about climate issues while in practice, they do quite the opposite by continuing to subsidize oil companies, approving additional fossil fuel pipelines, or refusing to impose a carbon tax on gas vehicles or further incentivize alternative forms of energy.

Obviously, in this blog, I am just beginning to explore the idea of performance as action. The topic deserves much more thought; however, I am coming to some tentative conclusions. First, signaling is not necessarily good or bad. It depends on how and to whom the message is communicated to. That needs to be explored. Second, it’s more helpful to find ways to identify facts and reasons to persuade others to take action than to simply identify a position. Third, its best to act being a model and then describe the reasons. Why am I a vegan you might ask? Answer: for my health, the climate, and love for animals. Why do I recycle? Shop fair trade? Give the reasons. Fourth, always be friendly and invite dialogue so as not to polarize your group. Finally, performance can be a negative thing. Shouting slogans or identifying others’ actions as disrespectful or immoral without the intent to inform might feel like a bonding action to the group, but it can alienate and polarize some other people.