FAIRBANKS - The University of Alaska and one of its three faculty unions have settled their next contract with almost a year to spare before the current pact expires.
The university and the United Academics arrived at the tentative three-year deal after a week of phone calls, faxes and a single meeting.
The quick conclusion was a sharp contrast with the 18 months of often contentious talks needed for the sides to hammer out their first agreement in early 1998.
``Since it was a first contract, both sides were kind of digging in and staking out their territory and trying to draw lines,'' said Carol Gold, executive vice president of the union, which represents about 650 university faculty members statewide.
Michael Hostina, the university's director of labor relations, passed credit rto Mark Hamilton, who took over as university president a few months after the current contract went into effect.
``His approach was, `Hey, why not assume we can all be reasonable,' which may not be the assumption that most labor negotiators start with,'' Hostina said.
The contract calls for 2.6 percent across-the-board pay increases for union members each year beginning July 2001, Gold said. It also sets up a committee to investigate pay equity issues among union members and streamlines the review process for tenured faculty.
The pay hike is the same that the Alaska Community Colleges Federation of Teachers union received in its latest three-year deal, which goes into effect in July.
The adjunct faculty union contract doesn't expire until December 2001.
Gold said ratification ballots mailed in by United Academics members would be counted next week, in advance of the next meeting of the university's Board of Regents.
The regents, who must also approve the deal, are scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday in Anchorage.