About 1,100 skilled trades workers across the Cal State University system will strike all day on Tuesday, Nov. 14 to protest what they say are the CSU’s unfair labor practices at the bargaining table.
Teamsters Local 2010 represents employees like plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians and mechanics, among others. The union says they will not be taking maintenance or repair orders on the day of the strike.
The strike comes after both parties failed to reach a contract agreement on Tuesday, Oct. 31.
CSU, however, does not view the planned strike as lawful, as parties are still in the bargaining process under state law, said CSU spokesperson Amy Bentley-Smith.
Cal State Universities will remain open and “have contingency plans in place to maintain full university operations with as minimal disruption as possible for students, faculty, staff, and visitors to our campuses,” said Bentley-Smith in an email.
The union has bargained with CSU since January and has accused the university of unfair labor practices during negotiations, as well as illegally infringing upon labor rights by interfering with picket lines, according to Jason Rabinowitz, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 2010.
Rabinowitz says the CSU has attempted to break up picket lines and stop workers from rallying.
“Our demand is that the university cease its unfair labor practices and return to the bargaining table with us and bargain in good faith for a contract that’s fair that we deserve,” Rabinowitz said.
The union is asking for better pay and wants the CSU to adopt salary “step” increases through 2026.
The union says CSU skilled trade workers are paid, on average, 23% less than their counterparts at University of California campuses, a figure that comes from this study done by Teamsters. A report last year by consulting firm Mercer also recommended that CSU implement salary step increases to make pay more competitive.
The university has offered a 15% compensation pool for a three-year period to Teamsters, but Rabinowitz said that the university’s proposals so far have been “inadequate” and “insulting.”
“These workers have been underappreciated and disrespected for far too long,” said Rabinowitz. “And workers are fed up with the unfair treatment.”
Teamsters are ready to take further action and are keeping their options open in the event that the university does not hear their demands and respond after the upcoming strike, said Rabinowitz.
CSU said it plans to have a neutral, state-appointed “factfinder” meet with both parties, identify issues, and produce a report as the next step in the bargaining process.
These negotiations come amid strong student opposition to a 6% tuition increase every year over five years and the California Faculty Association authorizing a strike in demand of higher salaries, smaller class sizes and more manageable workloads.