For Release May 6

Supreme Court Allows Board of Regents to Issue Contracts

Union Action Modified

PIERRE—The Board of Regents was notified today by the Supreme Court that the Court has modified the writ of prohibition suspending the Board action to distribute fiscal year 1999 raises. The Court had issued the writ at the request of the Council on Higher Education (COHE), the union that represents the faculty in negotiations with the Regents.

The court order modifying the writ of prohibition was sought jointly by the Regents and COHE, when it became apparent that the original injunction would prevent the Regents from issuing contracts for the 1998-99 academic year. "This order will permit the Board to issue contracts based upon the FY98 salaries, conditions, and terms. Board employees will be assured of continued employment and the universities will be guaranteed sufficient staff to deliver the curriculum and administer the institutions in FY99," said Regents General Counsel James Shekleton.

COHE has asserted that the Legislature acted unconstitutionally when it amended the general appropriation bill by directing the Regents to distribute salary increases at its sole discretion, without regard for the state’s collective bargaining statutes. On April 30, 1998, it obtained a writ of prohibition to prevent the Regents from approving salary increases recommended by the universities. The writ is an interim measure that prohibits the Board from proceeding with any discretionary salary increases until the Court has had adequate time to consider the COHE challenges to the constitutionality of the act.

"The Regents responded to the Legislature’s directive by promulgating to the universities guidelines on setting salary increases for next year," said Regents Executive Director Robert T. Tad Perry. "The universities were to consider their own high priority academic programs, employee performance, and market salary surveys. There were no across-the-board raises granted this year."

Regents President James O. Hansen said that the Regents were relieved that the Supreme Court acted promptly. "This removes the question of whether the Board can issue contracts. We will now wait for the Court to decide the other issues raised by COHE. "

Briefs are to be filed with the Supreme Court by May 20. The hearing before the Supreme Court is scheduled for June3.

Return to 1998 Press Releases