CSU faculty agree to take furloughs

A union representing 22,000 California State University faculty members has agreed to take furloughs two days a month to help close a huge budget deficit at the 23-campus system, officials said Friday.

The decision, along with other cutbacks, enrollment cutoffs and fee increases, will partially close the budget gap at CSU, Stanislaus.

Cal State Stanislaus' share of the system's $584 million cut is $14 million. Employees will take 24 furlough days from Aug. 1 to June 30, student fees will increase 20 percent this fall, and admissions are closed for the 2010 winter and spring terms.

Even with the fee increases and furloughs, CSUS must cut $5 million to $6 million, officials said in a news release.

President Hamid Shirvani has been working with college deans and vice presidents on how to make those cuts, but no final decisions have been made. It isn't clear what programs will be affected or if there are layoffs ahead.

"We only exist to serve students, and our top priority will continue to be quality instruction and service to students," Shirvani said. "As a public university, we are accountable to the public and to our students and, therefore, must make responsible decisions in the face of these challenging economic times."

Statewide, the furlough plan will require all CSU professors, lecturers, coaches and librarians to accept the furloughs, which amount to a 10 percent pay cut, over the coming academic year.

It was approved by 54 percent of the 8,800 California Faculty Association members who voted.

"It was an agonizing decision," said Lillian Taiz, a history professor at CSU, Los Angeles, who heads the union. Many faculty members "made this sacrifice for the good of their colleagues and the good of the university."

Also, the faculty union overwhelmingly approved a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Charles Reed's leadership.

Union and CSU officials are negotiating how to implement the furloughs, which likely will result in fewer teaching days or administrative duties for faculty members, said John Travis, a CSU professor who leads the CFA bargaining committee.

The chancellor has called for all of CSU's 47,000 employees to take unpaid leave two days a month as part of a plan to address a $584 million budget deficit caused by a 20 percent reduction in state funding. The furloughs could save as much as $275 million.

CSU officials welcomed news that faculty members will participate in the furlough plan.

"Furloughs will help us maintain as many jobs as we can and also help preserve employee benefits," CSU spokesman Claudia Keith said.

The no-confidence vote, approved by 79 percent of CFA members who voted, does not call for any action against Reed, but "it does send a very strong signal that the faculty is really fed up with his leadership," Taiz said.

She said many faculty members believe Reed has not worked hard enough to save state funding or find new sources of revenue.

CSU officials said faculty members' frustrations should be directed toward state policy-makers who have voted to cut funding.

On Tuesday, the CSU board of trustees approved a 20 percent increase in student fees — on top of a 10 percent hike approved in May — to help address the budget shortfall.