The California Faculty Association Declares the Class War Over After One Day

CSU Branding Guide – Fair Use

The California State University System, 23 campuses, nearly 500,000 students, and the 29,000 members in the California Faculty Association, settled a tentative agreement (TA) for a 5% raise, the employer’s original offer, after the counterfeit union promised a “win,” of 12%.

The “win” quickly became 5%. –“depending on state funding.” The settlement came overnight after a failed one-day strike.

The full TA has not been published.

The union, announced a five day strike, January 21 to 26, but made nearly no preparations.  Hence, after one day, Monday, the double-cross was done.

In a mass email, CFA’s Board said,  “This is what People Power looks like….”

People Power, was somewhat upended when the campus Teamsters Union sang “Solidarity For US,” and settled a TA on the weekend before the CFA strike began.

Management played tough, advising students how to scab, cross or easily avoid picket lines, and taught students how to rat out striking professors. Similar letters were sent to the parents, of adults.

From a CSU announcement to parents and students: “If a class or service is cancelled, you are welcome to share that information with us…”

“…it can feel uncomfortable to cross a picket line..choose a campus entrance that does not have one.”  (January 16, 2024)

The CSU employer threatened to dock both full time and adjunct professors for time lost.

Fresno State cynically offered special sessions for DREAMERS and a series of “fun” diversions culminating in a dodge-ball game. Given the chance, it was clear that administrators don’t know much about education.

The union, an affiliate of the huge, independent, National Education Association, apparently did not negotiate a no reprisals clause, leaving that up, to local bosses.

In local zoom conferences before the Monday strike, it was clear there was no strategy, no play on the real, visceral, hated many humanities professors feel for their bosses–and their rightful fear that humanities are being wiped out.

No choke points for direct action, like an important basketball game at San Diego State, were designated–easily disrupted even if momentarily.

Instead, local reps suggested people go to the night game as the strike would end, each day, at 7:30 p.m. , even though many classes extend well beyond that.

“What’s next after the five days?” The union representatives: “we don’t know.”

The five day scheme mimicked the bogus UAW rolling “Stand up” strikes which failed miserably. Now, UAW members who were promised job stability, are being laid off throughout the auto industry. (

Jackie, a local staff representative on zoom suggested that strikers be nice to scabs, without using the term, as they are “colleagues.” In the past, in the k12 world, school workers dealt with scab cars and didn’t speak to scabs for decades.

Wage disparities, workers and bosses, remain distinct.

Brady Hoke, a former SDSU football coach, was paid $3 million to step down from his job. The chancellor of the CSU system makes about a million dollars per year while many adjuncts are homeless and rely on local campus food banks.

Late in 2023, the CSU Board raised tuition 6% each year for the coming years.

Once, in California, from kindergarten through a public BA, there was no tuition. That became, over time, “fees,” and later, just flat out tuition, reflecting the booming , color coded, inequality of society.

The “Association,” which still avoids the term, union, did negotiate improvements in parental leave and rights to union assistance if members encounter problems with the police–whatever assistance that might be.

The CSU system lacks the prestige of the vaunted, research-based, University of California system but the CSU can now easily hire from Stanford, Berkeley, Yale, and the top universities in the world due to a remarkable oversupply of graduates.

The CSU runs north and south through the state, like the 21 Franciscan missions where rape, murder, and slavery were routine. It really never stopped. The San Diego Catholic diocese paid, so far, well over $200 million to settle abuse cases which are still piling up.

The CSU system, like most school systems, serves as a mission for capital and empire, making them normal, perpetual.

Identity politics (prioritizing anything but class) run amok, where the obvious role of real class war (workers and bosses have only contradiction in common) is obscured, even when strikes are on.

The NEA still proclaims it is a “partner in production,” with school employers nationwide.

Somewhat like timid monks, whose very special skills and knowledge concentrations tend to isolate faculty one from another, it’s likely that this Quisling  deal will get ratified and normalcy will return to overstuffed classrooms (speedup absent from the TA) where the bygone, mythical,  tradition of creating “citizens in a democracy,” is supplanted by testing skills, job hunting, and witless patriotism.

The union bosses, and the big bosses, are aware of these monkish structural weaknesses and take advantage of them, whipsawing adjuncts against full-timers, Identity specialists against other Identity specialist–every division not demolished will be used to demolish the whole.

There is no organized rank and file caucus prepared to oppose the contractual betrayal. Future school worker action will be tamped down.

In an election year where two aged narcissists promise, if nothing else, endless imperial war and its birth-twin, racism,  the National Education Associate can be expected to herd members into voting booths, choosing lesser evils, and away from any kind of problematic direct action.

This is a loss. Doubly so.

Stocks are at an all time high, while JP Morgan Chase billionaire boss, Jamie Dimon, worries more about war and economic collapse than the politicos will recognize in public.

And so, the ruling industrial, financial, agricultural ,and military classes will deepen their control of schools and gnaw on the minds and sinews of everyone they can.  Unless…

Rich Gibson is an emeritus professor at San Diego State and a co-founder of the Rouge Forum.