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College District, Faculty Continue Square Off: Strike On This Week

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Sonora, CA – No news of any possible teachers’ contract compromise came out of an emergency meeting called by the Mother Lode’s Community college district trustees.

The Yosemite Community College District (YCCD) board reported Monday afternoon that it did pass an emergency resolution to outline that Yosemite Faculty Association (YFA) members will not receive any compensation during any strike activities or other work absences unless it is for a medically approved reason.

As we recently reported here, YFA voted to hold a two-day strike Tuesday and Wednesday this week in protest of what its negotiators determined to be unfair labor practices as the union and district attempt to work out a new employment contract. The district continues to deny it is acting unfairly. YFA members plan to walk picket lines at various points on the Columbia College and both Modesto Junior College campuses, dressed in red t-shirts to show solidarity.

The YYCD board specified its action was to ensure it complies with state law regarding employee compensation during a strike, further pointing out that the state’s constitution and highest court precedents recognize that paying employees while they are on strike constitutes “a gift of public funds.” The vote was 4-1-1, with Trustees Tom Hallinan, Lynn Martin, Anne DeMartini and Abe Rojas in favor; Trustees Darin Gharat and Beggs respectively opposed and abstained. Trustee Don Viss was absent from the closed session.

YCCD Directions To Students, YFA Response

District officials say only striking faculty members will not receive compensation on the two strike days and the colleges will hold classes as usual for students whose instructors report to work. They are also advising students to check their college’s website or call their campus during regular business hours. Striking YFA faculty emphasize that they will not teach and cease all other work over the two-day period, which includes no sending emails.

In response to the YCCD emergency session action, YFA President Jim Sahlman shared with Clarke Broadcasting, “Despite the weather forecast calling for rain on both Tuesday and Wednesday, the faculty are ready to strike in protest of the YCCD’s unfair labor practices.”

As for the board vote, he commented, “YFA is not surprised by the four Trustees who voted in favor of the YCCD resolution, but was pleased to see the opposing vote by Board Chair Darin Gharat.” He added YFA has received legal counsel that due to a similar scenario outlined in a 2014 Attorney General’s finding, the fact that Beggs’ husband is on the MJC faculty should not limit her participation from voting on FYA matters, since she won her board seat two years while he was already a long-tenured professor.

Meanwhile, district officials advise students to check their college’s website for more specific information about their classes and/or call their campus during regular business hours. For Columbia College, click here. For Modesto Junior College, click here.