LOS ANGELES (CBS SF) – California State University faculty members were holding a statewide vote starting Monday on whether to authorize a strike in response to the recent breakdown of contract negotiations with the university.

Members of the California Faculty Association, which represents educators at the 23 CSU campuses, will vote on whether to grant their board of directors the authority to call a strike if the bargaining process fails.

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The vote will be carried out from today through April 27.

The next step in the bargaining process involves a neutral third party who will be brought in to examine the dispute and try to help the two sides reach a settlement, according to the union.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Union officials were marking the start of the vote Monday with actions at several CSU campuses, including San Francisco State University, where members were to gather for a noon rally.

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The rally will include performance artists dressed as vampires to signify that “the state is sucking the blood out of public education,” said Phil Klasky, member of the executive board for SFSU’s chapter of the union.

Klasky said university administrators were refusing to negotiate in good faith, have increased executives’ salaries while not bumping up faculty pay, and are seeking to increase class sizes.

“We don’t want to strike,” he said. “I need every single minute in my classes, but at what point do you decide you have to take a stand?”

Actions are also planned at Sonoma State University, Sacramento State University and Fresno State University.

Mike Uhlenkamp, a spokesman for the CSU chancellor’s office, said, “We are still committed to the negotiation process.”

Uhlenkamp said it would be “premature to talk about a potential strike.”

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