10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY january 25-31, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com news Just hours after the first CSU Monterey Bay faculty members took to campus streets in the rain loudly demanding more pay and improved working conditions—joining their colleagues at 22 other California State University campuses on Monday, Jan. 22, in the first strike of its kind in the CSU’s 64-year history—the CSU and California Faculty Association headed back to the bargaining table. By Monday evening, the two sides reached a tentative agreement and the strike was called off. “This tentative agreement makes major gains for all faculty at the CSU,” CFA President Charles Toombs said in a press release. He credited the collective action of lecturers, professors, counselors, librarians and coaches, including following through with plans for a five-day strike for the success. The union had been pushing for a 12-percent increase in salaries this year, while the CSU was holding firm at 5 percent per year over three years. Anything more would mean “massive layoffs,” CSU representatives said on Jan. 16. The tentative agreement reached Monday includes a 5-percent general salary increase for all faculty retroactive to July 1, 2023. Another 5-percent increase will come July 1, 2024. The lowest-paid faculty will see a $3,000 increase retroactive to July 1, 2023 and another $3,000 bump on July 1, 2024. Currently, the lowest-paid faculty member makes $54,360 annually. Total increases could result in a salary of over $66,000. The contract also includes increasing paid parental leave from six to 10 weeks. It extends the current contract for 2022-24 to June 30, 2025. Union members will vote on the agreement over the next few weeks. Strike That CSU faculty see gains in tentative agreement, reached after a single day of historic strike. By Pam Marino Salinas City Council voted 6-0 on Tuesday, Jan. 23 to approve a new contract with the Salinas Police Officers Association. Negotiations took place in record time of just three months. The previous contract expired on Dec. 31. It’s a turnaround from 2019, when the council imposed “the city’s last, best and final offer” on SPOA after going to arbitration. ”For several months, this council was criticized that we wanted to defund the police department, and that [couldn’t be] further from the truth,” said City Councilmember Tony Barrera. Councilmember Steve McShane differed: “I would argue that this council is not supportive of the PD,” McShane said during the meeting, noting that percentage-wise, its budget has decreased over the years. In the past three budget years, Salinas PD’s piece of the overall city budget pie has slightly decreased from 43.5 percent in 2021-2022 to 41 percent in 2023-24. During the same span, funds for the department have increased from $53 million to $60 million. The new contract, which goes through Dec. 31, 2025, includes a 4-percent increase for cost-of-living adjustment in February and a 2-percent increase in January 2025. Other changes include increasing on-call pay for detectives from $2.25 to $5 per hour, and adding Cesar Chavez Day and Juneteenth as holidays. The estimated contract adjustments for the next two years will cost $2.4 million. In the past week, SPD lost its former chief, Roberto Filice, who accepted a job at East Bay Regional Park District, and two police officers who moved to Hollister Police Department. Last March, SPD had 161 officers and 19 vacancies; it currently has fewer than 130 officers. “We just don’t have enough officers to adequately staff patrol,” the union wrote in a statement in December. Recruitment and staffing challenges are not unique to SPD, but understaffing has impacted police protocols in Salinas. One year ago, SPD changed its prioritization of calls due to low staffing. “We had to make some drastic decisions,” Chief Roberto Filice told the council on Jan. 24, 2023. Crimes like robberies, sexual assault and homicides trigger an immediate response; others, like trespassing, theft and vandalism, get a response on a case-by-case basis. In the contract discussion on Jan. 23, McShane said, “We have the lowest staffing in our police department I’ve ever seen,” noting residents call him reporting things like stolen bikes and petty theft, and also report lack of response to collisions. Councilmember Andrew Sandoval says since he’s been on counci‌l (starting in 2022), they have approved several requests from the Salinas PD including equipment, technology and a hiring incentive program in March of 2023. The program includes hiring bonuses of $27,500 for lateral police officers, $10,000 for police recruits, and referral incentives of $2,500 for staff who refer a police officer or recruits who are hired. To fund the $425,000 program, SPD used funds saved from vacant positions. “We are at mission critical in terms of staffing,” Mayor Kimbley Craig pointed out. “We are net negative 50 officers on the street in the last 15 years.” Sandoval and Craig hope this contract will help retain current police officers. Police Officer (and SPOA board member) Mario Reyes was on the negotiating team. “The Salinas Police Department is at a critical inflection point,” the union wrote. Police Pay Salinas City Council unanimously approves a two-year contract for police officers. By Celia Jiménez CSUMB faculty marched through the campus on Monday morning, Jan. 22, the first day of Spring Semester. They were back to classrooms the next day after a contract agreement was reached. “We are at mission critical in terms of staffing.” Daniel Dreifuss Daniel Dreifuss