October 27, 1997

Negotiations with United Academics continue with the assistance of mediator.

October 27, 1997  NR 19-1997

Negotiations for a first labor agreement between the University of Alaska and United Academics, the union representing the University's four-year, graduate, and research faculty, continued into the weekend with the assistance of a federal mediator. Despite a great deal of effort over many long hours of work, a comprehensive agreement was not reached.

The beginning of the meeting last week was marked by a union organized "demonstration of concern", a picket line made up of 8 to 10 faculty members expressing their view that the quality of academic programs at the University was declining due to excessive administrative costs.

While the university disagrees very strongly with the union's contentions about the quality of university academic programs, in the face of continued legislative budget cuts, the university's Board of Regents is in the midst of conducting a rigorous review of its administrative and academic programs. The goal of the review is to identify potential cost reductions through streamlined administrative processes and more productive academic programs. The regents' planning and development committee continues work on this project at a meeting this Wednesday in Anchorage.

"Given the timing of the union's demonstration of concern, it is clear that their real purpose was to exert pressure on the negotiations," said Jim Johnsen, the university's director of labor relations. "These attempts to apply political pressure are expected in the final stages of any negotiation and they have no effect on the university's position on the real issues being negotiated. We will continue to focus on negotiating a fair and reasonable contract for the faculty. "

While the negotiations sessions did not conclude in a new contract, the parties had constructive discussions on such issues as faculty workload, tenure, reduction in force, salaries, and health benefits. Another round of mediated negotiation will likely be scheduled sometime over the next several months.

For additional information, contact:
Jim Johnsen
Director of Labor Relations
University of Alaska
(907) 474-7879