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Columbia College Faculty Union Anticipates Two Day Strike

Sonora, CA – Ahead of an imminent all-but-certain strike vote, Mother Lode community college faculty representatives are taking issue with a public statement released by district officials with whom they remain at an impasse in labor negotiations.

As reported here Thursday, the Yosemite Community College District (YCCD) trustees publicly released a statement read aloud earlier this week at their board meeting. It maintained that Yosemite Faculty Association (YFA) never previously put into writing the exact percentage salary increase they were demanding for Columbia College and Modesto Junior College faculty.

YFA President Jim Sahlman tells Clarke Broadcasting that YFA proposed specific salary increase offers on at least four occasions dating back to April of 2017. He notes that in March the union proposed an automatic funding formula, affirmed later that month in its negotiations impasse request to the Public Employment Relations Board. According to Sahlman, the union provided similar information during fact-finding and again this week to the district’s legal counsel ahead of the board meeting.

He states, “The board either was not provided this information by the district or ignored this information,” adding that the statement is easily refutable based on publicly available documents. Negotiation sessions between YFA and YCCD, which have been ongoing for three years-plus now, have grown increasingly contentious, and have included mediation, fact-finding and legal counsel negotiations.

First Of Possible Two Strikes Coming Before Semester’s End

At an all-member YFA meeting tonight, leaders will be calling for an emergency authorization to hold an unfair practices strike before the end of the semester. The move comes in the wake of a filing with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board. Among several complaints, YFA states the district recently made a “regressive” bargaining proposal, threatened to unlawfully terminate and discipline faculty for engaging in a protected protest activity, and informed YFA it would pass “new” emergency strike resolutions if YFA were to implement its impasse strike vote.

Officials anticipate announcing the dates of the two-day strike at tonight’s meeting. They add that if YCCD continues to force what YFA outlined to be unlawful labor practices, YFA membership has already authorized a post-impasse strike it will move forward with if necessary. While the district says it has a contingency plan to keep classes in session during any strike activities, Sahlman says he is not so sure of that. “There is no logistical or mathematical way that the District can cover more than 2,100 classes.”

In closing, Sahlman comments, “If YCCD is willing to bargain in good faith, then the YFA will be available for those discussions — and if the district is willing to do that before the strike, then the YFA will also be open to that. But so far, the YCCD continues to demonstrate that it bargains in bad faith…YFA is not interested if the district continues to engage in more of the same.”