LONG BEACH (CNS) — More than 94 percent of the faculty at the 23 California State University campuses voted to authorize a strike over a continuing labor dispute focused on salaries, it was announced.

The 25,000 members of the California Faculty Association voted over a 10-day period last month. The result, released Wednesday, Nov. 4, does not automatically mean they will walk off the job. The vote merely authorizes the union to call a strike, depending on the status of labor talks with the Long Beach-based CSU.

“No one takes a strike vote lightly, especially faculty who have invested so much in their students,” CFA President Jennifer Eagan said. “The faculty are angry and justifiably so.”

The union is calling for a 5 percent salary hike, along with additional increases based on years of service. The CSU chancellor’s office has offered 2 percent.

Eagan, a professor at Cal State East Bay, said the hiring of instructors has not kept up with the increase of student enrollment, and that CSU spending on instruction has decreased. The buying power of professors has declined, she said.

According to the CSU, there is a roughly $68.9 million funding gap between the union and university salary proposals. University officials said compensation issues are a top priority for the system.

Faculty were the only group of employees to receive salary increases and tenure-track salary promotions during the recession years, according to the CSU.

The university system acknowledged earlier that strike authorization votes are common during collective bargaining, adding a strike “is not in the best interest of CSU students.”

In response to the vote results, CSU officials said the university “remains committed to the collective bargaining process and reaching a negotiated agreement with the California Faculty Association.”

“Fact-finding hearings are currently scheduled for Nov. 23 and Dec. 7. The approval of the strike vote gives CFA’s leadership the authority to initiate a strike or other concerted activities in the event that the parties do not reach an agreement at the conclusion of the statutory impasse procedure,” according to CSU.

Eagan said the CFA will demonstrate at the chancellor’s office Nov. 17 in Long Beach. Union officials said an actual strike, if it happens, wouldn’t take place until next year, because they’re not allowed to stage a walkout until after a fact-finding process is completed.