Union Democrat staff

Faculty for the two schools in the Yosemite Community College District should be given an overall salary increase of 8 percent, according to the state mediator working to end an impasse between the union and administration.

The report released today also recommended the salary schedule be reduced from 30 steps to 25, which would give faculty at least a 2 percent ongoing increase. If the recommendations are accepted, faculty would receive retroactive increases of 2 percent to July 1, 2017, 2 percent to July 1, 2018 and a 4 percent increase beginning Tuesday.

The cost of these increases would be about $3.4 million.

Both sides have released statements saying they agree with the recommendations and reported having a successful meeting on Dec. 23. They plan to meet Sunday as well.

Faculty at Modesto Junior College and Columbia College are among the least paid of similar colleges in the region, and the Yosemite Faculty Association has been pressing for an increase that would bring them closer to the middle.

The union reported their salaries are 22 percent below the other schools.

The administration had offered a two-year contract covering 2017-18 and 2018-19, with 2 percent and 4 percent raises.

The report, written by Bonnie Castrey of Huntington Beach said reaching the median during this bargaining period was impossible because that would mean an increase of at least 12 percent and possibly as high as 20 percent.

Castrey said by law the district must project budgets three years out and if such an increase was granted that would mean by year three the district would be running a $3 million deficit.

Both sides are working to avert a strike called for Jan. 14, the first day of the spring semester.

The report also said the two parties should continue working toward faculty pay being at the median rate of similar institutions when the contract ends in June.

The report also said the two parties have been meeting about class size and are close to an agreement.