November 6, 2014
The team representing Montana’s state employee unions and the team for Governor Bullock’s office reached a tentative agreement on the state pay plan November 6.
|Above: Union bargaining team members Becky Lunscford, Helena; Fred Sparks, Billings; Thomas Lehotsky, Great Falls.|
|Above and below: union team members await the state’s final proposal.|
The agreement was reached just before 5:00 p.m., after a full day of bargaining.
The agreement calls for a 50 cents/hour increase in base pay for all state employees beginning October 2015 and another 50 cents/hour increase beginning October 2016. This amounts to $2,080 more for all state employees over the next two years.
The agreement also includes increases in the employer contribution to health insurance: a 10% increase in 2016 and an 8% increase in 2017.
It also calls for meaningful discussion about inequities in the state’s current broadband pay system.
Overall, the agreement is “not bad,” said MEA-MFT member Kyla Gardiner, a member of the unions’ bargaining team and an employee at the state Dept. of Revenue.
“It’s better than it could have been. It’s something we can get passed. We still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Next steps: The tentative agreement must now be ratified by members of the three unions. Ballots will be mailed to all members soon.
Once the agreement is ratified, the three unions will work jointly with Governor Bullock’s office to get it passed through the 2015 Montana Legislature, which convenes in January.
The unions’ team included rank-and-file members of MEA-MFT, MPEA, and AFSCME. Around 50 union members have participated in the negotiations, which have taken place over the last several months.
“I’m very proud of our bargaining team; they did a great job,” said MEA-MFT Field Consultant Larry Nielsen. “This is not the end by any means, though. The heavy lifting begins in January as we begin to work with the legislature. We’ll need all our state employee members to get involved.”
Questions about the agreement? Contact MEA-MFT Field Consultant Larry Nielsen: [email protected].