ANCHORAGE - A University of Alaska faculty union reached a tentative contract agreement Friday, two days after leaders said they were close to calling a strike.
Members of the Alaska Community Colleges' Federation of Teachers still must ratify the proposed three-year contract. The pact also must be approved by the university Board of Regents.
"We are happy that our students will not have their education interrupted and that has always been the paramount concern of faculty," said Bob Congdon, president of the union, which represents 315 faculty.
The tentative agreement comes after sometimes-bitter talks between the union and administrators in more than a year of negotiations.
On Wednesday, union leaders said negotiations were on the verge of collapse even though UA President Mark Hamilton offered to enter into third-party arbitration.
The union's chief negotiator, Barbara Harville, said Hamilton wanted to implement arbitration rules so restrictive that a fair decision would be impossible. But university officials said the rules were only guidelines.
Hamilton said Friday he was relieved a strike had been diverted.
"Resolution of this divisive issue is critical so we get our collective focus back where it needs to be, on our students and their success," he said.
Details of the agreement will be available after ratification, officials said.
Earlier, negotiators for both sides said the financial aspects of the contract were among the lesser sticking points. Major disagreements hinged on faculty rights issues, such as diminished job security and attempts to bar members from teaching upper division courses.
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