MJC professors walkout causes canceled classes
Negotiators for the Yosemite Community College District and a faculty union agreed Sunday on terms of a new contract for instructors at Modesto Junior College and Columbia College, erasing plans for a strike Jan. 14, when classes resume for nearly 25,000 students.
The deal was reached after a bargaining session of nearly eight hours Sunday, which followed eight hours of talks a week earlier. It must be ratified by members of the Yosemite Faculty Association and by the district’s Board of Trustees “in the coming weeks,” according to a joint press release.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed in the release. If ratified, it will apply to 299 full-time and 426 part-time instructors at the campuses in Modesto and Columbia.
The deal resolves an impasse reached in April after three years of bargaining salaries and class sizes; the previous contract expired in June 2016. State mediation produced suggestions in a Dec. 19 fact-finding report, leading to the two lengthy negotiating sessions during the holiday break.
Thousands of classes were canceled when professors and instructors went on strike for two days over the union’s unfair labor practice complaint against the district. The union’s executive board authorized another strike starting Jan. 14 that might have lasted as long as two weeks, nullified by Sunday’s agreement.
District Chancellor Henry Yong and union President Jim Sahlman both said the deal will benefit students and faculty alike. Sahlman reflected on a “fresh start,” as the agreement coincides with the new year.
Yong, Vice Chancellor of Human Resources Gina Leguria and Finance Director Susan Yeager represented the district at Sunday’s negotiating session. On the other side of the table were Sahlman, physics professor Tom Nomof and counselor Dimitri Keriotis.