Is Cal Poly asking students to rat out their teachers?

January 21, 2024


Even though most of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s faculty is planing to stage a five-day strike, administrators have asked students to “rat out professors” who participate in the strike.

Members of the California faculty Association plan to begin their protest at 23 CSU campuses on Monday. For eight months, the union has negotiated with CSU officials over salaries, class sizes, leave and more. No agreement has been reached with both sides at an impasse.

Even though faculty members are legally required to report their absences, Keith Humphrey, Cal Poly’s vice president for student affairs, sent an email to students and their parents asking that they report teachers who have canceled classes.

“Both CFA and Teamsters have demanded a general salary increase that would result in cuts to programs and potentially layoffs on our campuses,” Humphrey wrote in his email. “Despite this, we are committed to fairly compensating our employees in a financially sustainable manner.”

In his email, Humphrey includes a link to a page students can fill out regarding teachers who cancel their classes. An action that mechanical engineering professor Andrew Kean found divisive.

“Cal Poly has plenty of administrators and staff who could see who is actually striking, but they are too lazy to do the work themselves,” Kean said. “They have asked students to tattle on us in an effort to drive a wedge between faculty and students. Regardless of how one feels about the faculty strike, contributing to additional animosity on campus is unnecessary and should not be part of the activities of Cal Poly administration.”

Contract negotiations stalled in October after the CSU offered a maximum pay increase of 5%. Faculty members are seeking a 12% increase in pay, along with other demands.

The California Faculty Association is calling for:

  • 12% pay raises that keep ahead of inflation.
  • Pay equity and raising the floor for our lowest-paid faculty.
  • Manageable workloads that allow for more support and engagement with students.
  • More counselors to improve students’ much-needed access to mental health services.
  • Expanding paid parental leave to a full semester.
  • Accessible lactation and milk storage spaces for lactating faculty.
  • Safe gender-inclusive restrooms and changing rooms.
  • Safety provisions for faculty interacting with university police on our campuses.

CSU officials report they are facing a huge funding gap, and that the increases in pay would cost approximately $380 million a year.

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chocolate_addict: This is Cal Poly, not Sacramento the conversation about debt, climate mitigation and illegals is that way >>

I looked up salaries/benefits on Transparent California. Ms. Kawamura, one of the union strike leaders, pulls in about $92,000 a year.

And what exactly are they whining about????

Transparent California lumps both salary and benefits together on their main page. If you click on her name, you’ll see she makes about $59k in salary, with $33k in benefits (medical/dental/etc). Seems pretty low for a full-time job here in California after 10+ years of working and with an advanced degree. But at least the CSU management and administrators salaries are very generous, wouldn’t want them to have to rent a small crummy apartment or drive a non-luxury vehicle to work.

I assume we’re discussing Lisa Kawamura, and if so you’re both looking at the data a bit incorrectly.

In 2022 she made $87,289.46 in regular pay and $3,800 in other pay, for a total of $91,089.46. She also received $53,060.16 in compensation in the form of benefits, for a total compensation of $144,149.62.

I also assume you’re talking about the view on a mobile device. Regrettably the real estate there is limited, but the column is clearly labelled “Total Pay and Benefits” so it seems pretty clear that number includes benefits. Clicking on that person opens a screen that shows the full detail.

Now, one can discount the value of benefits, however two points to make on that…

1) A private company typically contributes 6.2% of salary to social security and 4.4% to retirement in the form of a 401K match, for a total of 10.6%. If Ms. Kawamura is a member of the CalSTRS pension plan, her employer is providing her with a total contribution to her retirement of 29.928% this year. That’s about 19% more than private employees receive. On an pay of $91K, that means she received $17,290 toward her retirement that private workers did not get.

That $17K, if done annually for a full 30 year career and invested (as one would with a 401K), making average returns, would be worth close to $3 million during retirement.

That seems pretty significant compensation, and should be a part of the conversation and calculations. A private employee who wanted to fund their retirement to get the same retirement income as Ms. Kawamura would need to make about $105,000/year to contribute to their retirement equally and take home the same money to spend.

2) According to Kaiser Health, private employees pay on average $550/month for healthcare insurance. I don’t know what the CSU plan costs employees, but if it’s less than $550/month then that is a bit of additional compensation benefit to employees.

Whether all that means making the equivalent of $105K/year is “too low” or justifies a strike for more is not my call, that should really be up to the parents and students who are paying tuition.

Thank goodness for Transparent California. It removes the mystery out of public employee pay and benefits, as well as enlightening the public on pay and benefit abuse. I have heard that it was quite difficult to start that site. Some forces really did not want that information/abuse public knowledge.

I would think the students have a significant stake in walkouts and pay increases since they are footing the bill through in many cases significant levels of indebtedness. If I were paying for it, You better show up and teach your class or offer a pro rate refund.

Faculty who strike are getting their pay docked for that week. Students whose classes are canceled won’t be getting their tuition reimbursed by the CSU. But I’m sure the CSU management will put that extra money to good use. University presidents usually get 15-25% raises per year, after all.

  • Safety provisions for faculty interacting with university police on our campuses.

What does this even mean? Is it a precursor to ban campus police? Just wondering.