SEIU 1021

California College of the Arts Staff to Go on Strike Starting Feb. 8 as Administration Doubles Down on Misplaced Priorities
Despite administration’s assertions that an agreement is imminent, they have made no real effort to find common ground on their staff’s priorities—and their staff are done waiting patiently after over 2 years of negotiations.



Contact: Jennie Smith-Camejo,, 510-710-0201

Starting next Tuesday, February 8, California College of the Arts (CCA) will make history in a way administration might not be proud of, as its staff go on strike in protest of its unfair labor practices. The first strike at a private arts college in the nation since 2012–and the first strike at a private college in California since a one-day strike at Pepperdine in 1976–could have been avoided, had CCA administration decided to get serious about reaching agreements on their employees’ key priorities after they voted by 97% to authorize a strike in December. Instead, they will see classes cancelled, studios and facilities shuttered, and services interrupted—and picket lines outside campus.

WHAT: CCA staff strike, with “sympathy strike” participation from adjunct faculty and students

WHEN: Starts Tuesday, Feb. 8. Picket lines 8am-5pm; rally at 12pm. Press availability beginning at 11am each day.

WHERE: CCA San Francisco campus, 1111 8th St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Tues. 2/8); CCA Oakland campus, Broadway and Clifton (Wed. 2/9)

WHY: CCA administration continues to violate federal labor law while slow-walking contract negotiations with their staff.

VISUALS: Picket lines in front of campus, with staff, faculty, students, and supporters holding homemade signs, chanting.

“CCA is breaking labor laws, and staff have been negotiating our first contract for over 2 years! Adjunct faculty have also been negotiating their second contract for a year and a half,” said CCA Senior Library Technician Amber Bales, who also serves as the CCA union secretary. “CCA management and their lawyer will tell you this is a normal negotiation process, but it’s not. It is completely dysfunctional.”

CCA staff will hold the picket lines from 8am to 5pm outside the San Francisco campus every day next week starting Tuesday, with the exception of Wednesday, when the picket lines will be held outside the Oakland campus. They will hold rallies at noon both days (San Francisco on Tuesday, Oakland on Wednesday). Adjunct faculty will be participating in a sympathy strike, cancelling classes and joining the picket lines. The impending strike has also met an outpouring of support from students and alumni, who have sent hundreds of emails to administration urging them to settle a fair contract immediately. At least 15 local elected leaders, including nine of the eleven members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Assemblymember Mia Bonta, have publicly urged CCA’s administration to settle a fair contract with staff and adjunct faculty.

Key priorities that administration has not adequately addressed in contract negotiations include livable wages—though CCA President Stephen Beal is paid more than any other administrator of a private Bay Area college, behind only the president of Stanford, 40% of full-time staff make less than $55,000 a year, which is considered a “self-sufficiency wage” in the Bay Area—and job security, as well as input into decision-making.

The urgency of employee involvement in institutional decision-making is underscored by CCA’s “campus unification plan” — a risky, shady real estate venture similar to those that recently bankrupted and nearly shut down San Francisco Art Institute and Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont. CCA’s Potrero Hill campus, where they plan to build on the “back lot” to consolidate operations in San Francisco, has already been mortgaged as collateral for $30 million in debt the tuition-dependent college has no realistic way to repay, given their actual fundraising record. CCA staff and faculty have long been sounding the alarm about how the plan endangers the institution, its programs, its students, and ultimately its legacy—to no avail. “CCA doesn’t like having to answer to a unionized work force. They want to continue to do whatever they want, regardless of the effects on workers – especially during this transitional time as we say goodbye to the beloved Oakland campus and move all programs to San Francisco,” explained Bales.

“CCA staff are going on strike because our administration shows a complete lack of respect for the rights of union workers. They stall the collective bargaining process and break the law by making unilateral changes to working conditions,” said CCA Libraries Public Services Manager Paul Navarrete, who is also a member of the union contract negotiations team.

“We hope going on strike will result in a contract that we on the bargaining team can proudly recommend to our members: a contract that raises salaries for the lowest paid workers, wins seniority rights that will help retain our great staff members, and improves student services.” 

“President Beal and Provost Carland don’t think labor relations are part of their jobs, and CCA management thinks they can push around workers. It’s time to remind them that CCA doesn’t work unless we do,” added Bales.

CCA staff have set up a GoFundMe strike fund to support striking workers who will suffer from losing their wages during next week’s strikes.