PacifiCorp, the Portland-based parent company of Utah Power & Light, reduced its electric operations' work force by 1,173 as of March 31, but it was done by attrition and early retirement programs, not layoffs.

A.M. Gleason, PacifiCorp's president and chief executive officer, told some 600 shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Salt Lake City Wednesday that the reduction in the work force exceeded by 10 percent its commitment to regulators that it would have 1,063 fewer employees by the end of 1992.Gleason told the gathering in the Salt Palace that since the merger of UP&L into PacifiCorp two years ago, economic development "in which we have taken the lead" has brought 6,000 jobs to Utah and $23 million of electric revenue to the company.

"For a major employer like Utah Power, it was only natural that employees and communities would have initial concerns about organizational changes occurring after a merger," said Gleason. "We have remained sensitive to the concerns from the outset."

From the 1989 merger through 1990, Gleason said 116 PacifiCorp employees had to change their jobs in the company. Forty-seven moved to new positions in the Utah Power Division from positions eliminated at Pacific Power; 32 moved from Utah Power to the Pacific Power division and 37 moved to new jobs within their current division.

During the annual meeting, Gleason announced that PacifiCorp directors voted earlier in the day to increase the quarterly dividend on common stock by $0.015 per share - from $0.36 to $0.375.

The 4.2 percent increase raises the annual dividend rate to $1.50 from $1.44 and is the fifth consecutive year the dividend has been raised. It is payable Aug. 15 to shareholders of record July 23. The ex-dividend date is July 17. Dividends at regular rates on preferred shares were also authorized for payment.

For the first quarter of 1991, PacifiCorp reported earnings' contribution on common stock of $130 million, a 3 percent increase over the same period last year. Earnings per share of 51 cents declined slightly from 52 cents for the same quarter a year ago due to a 5 percent increase in the average number of common shares outstanding.

For 1990, PacifiCorp's net income rose 2 percent to $474 million. Earnings per share were also up 2 percent, to $1.85. Dividends paid for the year increased 4 percent to $1.41 per share.

The company credits much of that growth to the UP&L acquisition, a merger which Gleason said created "greater strength and efficiency, while altering the company's future."

During the meeting, a group of area labor union members, together with striking coal miners from Decker Coal Co. in Sheridan, Wyo., picketed outside the Salt Palace, calling on PacifiCorp to settle the labor dispute that began in 1987 and involves 240 workers.

A spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America said the picketing involved "hundreds," but David Mead, manager of public information for PacifiCorp Electric Operations, said there were no more than 50.

"I counted them as they made a complete circuit," said Mead.

Tammy Green, wife of a striking Decker miner, said PacifiCorp was "throwing its shareholders' money down the drain" by allowing the strike to go on. "It's well past time for Decker to return to the bargaining table ready to negotiate a fair and just contract. Pacifi-Corp can make that happen," she said.

Decker, the 13th largest mine in the nation, is jointly owned by Peter Kiewit Sons Inc., Omaha, Neb., and NERCO Inc., a PacifiCorp subsidiary.

Ed R. Mayne, president of the Utah State AFL-CIO, and other union leaders promised to "hold PacifiCorp accountable until a just settlement is reached."

But Mead denied that PacifiCorp holds the keys to a settlement. He said Kiewit operates the mine, owns half the coal and is entirely independent.

"It's a complex dispute, and we urge Kiewit to resolve the matter as soon as possible."