By Carlos Correa

MODESTO (CBS13) — The valley’s poor air quality recently forced Modesto Junior College to close and now students will be missing more classes… this time over a faculty strike. Union members are bargaining over a contract that expired two years ago.

For the next two days, faculty at Modesto Junior College and Columbia College will be on strike. Workers are fighting over unfair labor practices.

“We are tired of the threats. We are tired of their regressive bargaining tactics, making worse offers than they previously made,” said Jim Sahlman, president of the Yosemite Faculty Association.

The strike means emails will go unanswered and online courses will go offline. It also means about 154 classes at Columbia and 2,600 at Modesto Junior College will be canceled.

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“We have 322, maybe a little more, faculty that have committed to this strike. At Columbia, it’s about 45ish or more that are doing it so, it’s about 360… which is a little half of our total faculty,” Sahlman said.

The Yosemite Community College District oversees both campuses. Leaders have denied the union’s accusations. They also are not planning any make-up days for students who have already missed classes due to the recent poor air quality.

“In terms of their grades for the semester, it will not be affected. There is still enough class time that they could make up this work. Finals occur the week of December 10th and those will go on as scheduled,” said Dave Lyghtle with the Yosemite Community College District.

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Representatives for the union say 90 percent of its members favored a strike.  It’s a decision that has brought a lot of confusion among several students.

“I got an e-mail, I think Thursday or Friday, saying that we had class today, but I thought we didn’t because I heard about the strike,” said student Rylee Rubalcaba.

Representatives for the faculty union said 86 percent of its members participated in the strike vote earlier this month.  Almost 90 percent favored the two-day strike.

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