Court favors university in salary dispute

Posted: Monday, February 24, 2003

FAIRBANKS - The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that the University of Alaska is not obligated to give members of a teachers union the same pay raise nonunion members received in 1996.

In a decision released Friday, justices reversed a Superior Court ruling that would have required the university to conduct a salary study for members of the Alaska Community Colleges' Federation of Teachers and grant raises according to the results.

The study would have used techniques of a 1996 analysis that resulted in salary increases of as much as 2.6 percent for many nonunion employees.

The earlier analysis was conducted after nonunion employees were removed from the group of teachers receiving a 3 percent annual pay raise because of what the UA Board of Regents cited as impending financial constraints.

The study determined about 250 nonunion faculty were underpaid compared with their UA peers, and they were subsequently compensated.

After the study, the union filed a grievance claiming union members who received the 3 percent annual hike should have been included in the study and received pay raises that resulted. An arbitrator ruled the university should have included the union members in the study. Anchorage Superior Court Judge John Reese agreed.

The Supreme Court reversed the judge's decision, citing a faulty interpretation of the union contract by the arbitrator.

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