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Cal State faculty approve 4-year contract
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The California State University faculty has overwhelmingly approved a new four-year labor contract, ending more than two years of contentious bargaining with the administration, the union said Tuesday.

Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, said the contract, which largely preserves current working conditions and contains no salary raises, won 91 percent of approval by voting members.

About 45 percent of the union's 12,500 voting members cast ballots over several weeks last month. Many faculty members were out of town on research assignments, Taiz said.

The contract, which must still be ratified by the university's board of trustees at its meeting later this month, covers 23,000 professors, lecturers and other professional employees throughout CSU's 23 campuses. Not all are voting members.

John Swarbrick, associate vice chancellor for labor relations, said in a statement that he was pleased that the union has passed the agreement and added that he expects the board to also ratify it.

Faculty members have been working without a contract for the last 2½ years during a contentious bargaining process that spurred a strike-authorization vote and intervention of a mediator last spring.

With that issue now resolved, Taiz said faculty will be fully engaged in lobbying for passage of Proposition 30, which calls for increasing the sales tax and income taxes for the wealthy to raise funds for public education. If the measure fails in November, CSU will lose $250 million starting in January.

"It's one of those moments, and it doesn't happen too often, when faculty and the board are on the same page," Taiz said. "We are 100 percent engaged in what happens next."

With class sizes increasing, no pay raises for four years, and program cuts that threaten jobs, employees said morale is low on campuses.

"The faculty are feeling fairly beaten down," said Jonathan Karpf, an anthropology lecturer at San Jose State University. "But the majority are feeling better that we've reached an agreement."

The changes in the new contract are modest. Most of the union's battle was to preserve items the university wanted to cut. More than $750 million has been cut from CSU's budget over the past three years.