University of Alaska Seeks Arbitration
Submitted by Nile Mueller
UA President Mark Hamilton confirmed today that he has offered to enter into arbitration with the Alaska Community College Federation of Teachers (ACCFT), the union representing nearly 300 faculty teaching at the UA system's community campuses and those faculty teaching exclusively at the lower division at the Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau campuses.
Although arbitration is a significant leap from the negotiated settlement Hamilton had hoped for, he said, "The university, including the faculty represented by the ACCFT, is eager to reach a conclusion to this long and frustrating negotiation." After over a year of negotiations, including two sessions with a federal mediator, Hamilton expressed his belief that a neutral third party arbitrator is perhaps the best option for resolving differences that have kept the parties from reaching a final agreement. "I'm saddened that we have been unable to reach a negotiated settlement with the union, but I understand the process sometimes requires outside help to reach conclusion. Arbitration will provide an opportunity for the university and the union to put forward what they each think are the most reasonable proposals and we'll let the arbitrator make the decision."
President Hamilton said that a settlement of the contract is in the best interests of the university and its students as well as the ACCFT faculty because "we are attracting more students than ever in the university's history because of the enthusiasm of our faculty and the quality of our instructional programs. Together we have created a momentum that serves the state well now and in the future."
Hamilton said he commends the union for its agreement to negotiating sessions on Thursday and Friday this week, and again next week. He is calling on the union to use these sessions "to work constructively with his representatives to set out the essential guidelines and procedures for arbitration and to narrow the issues that will be put forward for decision." In a spirit of optimism, he added that it was possible "the very act of preparing for arbitration may lead us to the negotiated settlement that has eluded us to date."
FOR MORE INFORMATION; Bob Miller, 907-474-6311