CSU faculty, including Cal State East Bay, approves furloughs to help cut budget deficits

State university system facing $584 million deficit; may need more cuts, higher tuition in

Members of a union representing California State University system faculty announced Friday that they have voted to accept two unpaid furlough days a month for a year to address the budget deficit facing the system, a union spokeswoman said.

The furlough plan was approved by 54 percent of the California Faculty Association members who voted on the plan between July 13 and Wednesday, according to union spokeswoman Alice Sunshine.

The plan, which was voted on by about 68 percent of the 13,007 members who pay dues to the union, had been proposed earlier this month by CSU Chancellor Charles Reed as part of a plan to address a $584 million budget deficit for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Along with the furloughs, the CSU system is not accepting new students for the upcoming winter and spring terms and is increasing students' fees.

California Faculty Association President Lillian Taiz said the furloughs would likely lead to the canceling of certain classes. An increase in class sizes is also likely because of the cuts.

"The victims here are the students," Taiz said. "It's ironic that faculty are making less and working more, students are paying more and getting less."

The furloughs are expected to save about $275 million for the CSU system, but an additional $190 million in cuts will also be spread statewide among the campuses, making it likely that some faculty and academic staff will likely have to be cut, according to Taiz.

It's a "lose-lose situation" for the faculty, she said. "All along during the vote, we've been very clear that furlough or no furlough, there's going to be layoffs, so this a double whammy."

What cuts are made will vary depending on each campus, according to Taiz, who said the cuts will likely be made on a departmental level.

The union still has to work out specific details about the furloughs with the university administration, she said. In contrast to the furloughs of state workers on certain Fridays of each month, Taiz said the details of the furloughs would likely vary from one campus to the next.

"We really don't know any of that yet," she said.

Along with the vote on the furlough, the union employees also took a poll that showed an overwhelming dissatisfaction with the performance of Reed.

Only 4 percent of voters said they had confidence in the chancellor's leadership, while 79 percent voted "no confidence" and 17 percent responded "don't know."

Several CSU labor groups, including the California State University Employees Union that represents 16,000 non-academic staff, have already accepted the furlough proposal, which will take effect Aug. 1.

Management and non-represented employees, such as the chancellor, campus presidents, and executives, will also begin the furloughs in August.

The faculty's approval of the furloughs announced today "will help to save jobs, preserve employee health and retirement benefits, and ultimately, allow us to better serve students," CSU Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Gail Brooks said in a statement.

"We are facing a financial crisis, and need to move forward to reduce our employee costs," Brooks said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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