The Yosemite Community College District avoided a second faculty strike scheduled for the coming weeks after negotiations on Sunday resulted in a tentative agreement for a new contract.
Classes at Modesto Junior College and Columbia College in Sonora were cancelled during a first strike in November as the Yosemite Faculty Association hit the picket line, protesting “unfair labor practices” from YCCD after nearly three years of contract negotiations.
YFA represents over 700 full- and part-time instructors who went on strike Nov. 27-28, cancelling 2,750 classes on both campuses — 2,600 at MJC and 150 at CC. A second strike was scheduled for Jan. 14 when more than 25,000 students will return to class, and would have lasted two weeks if an agreement was not reached by then.
“This groundbreaking agreement will allow us to work together to build a great future for our students,” YCCD Chancellor Henry Yong said. “We are happy that the District is able to reach an agreement that respects our faculty and serves our students.”
YFA and YCCD have been working on a new contract for close to three years, and in April 2018 the District delivered its last, best offer which was rejected by the union. The offer continued to demand unsustainable class size increases, YFA said, and a second proposal of an eight percent pay raise over four years was found to be “regressive” by the union.
The raise would have kept faculty at the bottom of a cohort including 10 similar college districts negotiated by YCCD and YFA in 2007 as part of a 10-year agreement. According to the union, faculty is currently 22 percent below the median of the group after 10 years of the union receiving less than a one percent raise on average.
In November YFA President Jim Sahlmanat said that YFA understood YCCD wouldn’t be able to write faculty members a 22 percent check immediately, so the union offered contract options which would eventually work up to that number.
Following Sunday’s negotiations, Sahlmanat on Monday said he was “pleased” with the tentative agreement reached, though the specific details of the contract have yet to be released.
“It’s timely that this is happening right before the new year,” Sahlmanat said. “We are excited about a fresh start, not only with our contract but with the Yosemite Community College District administration.”
Sunday was the second daylong bargaining session since the two sides received a fact-finding report from a state mediator on Dec. 19 — prior to Sunday, they also met for eight hours on Dec. 23. The tentative agreement contract agreed on over the weekend must be ratified by all YFA members as well as the YCCD Board of Trustees, and those votes are expected in the coming weeks.
Sahlmanat said he has “no doubt” that YFA will ratify the contract and that union members are thrilled with the results.
“We are pleased with the new relationships we are forming with the administration and look forward to getting back to the work we love doing – educating our students,” he said.