The joint union bargaining team for Montana’s state employees met with the bargaining team from Governor Bullock’s office November 9. The two teams reached a tentative agreement on the next state employee pay plan.
The unions’ team includes 12 members of MEA-MFT, MPEA, and AFSCME.
What’s in the tentative agreement:
• 1% salary increase for all Montana state employees each year of the next biennium (2017 and 2018).
• These salary increases become effective the first full pay period that includes November 15th of each year of the biennium.
• State employee health care costs will be frozen for the biennium. Employee contributions, copay amounts, deductibles, coinsurance levels, and maximum out-of- pocket levels will not increase through December 31, 2018. They will only increase in the 2019 plan year if the actuarially determined Risk Based Capital Level is at or below 250%. That is not expected to happen.
Pay plan background:
Thanks to hard work on the part of MEA-MFT, MPEA, and AFSCME members and leaders, we were able to bargain two good state pay plans and get them passed through the last two legislative sessions (2013 and 2015).
Because of those victories, state employees received the following:
• 3% salary increase in 2013
• 5% salary increase in 2014
• $.50/hour salary increase in January 2016
• $.50/hour increase in January 2017
• Increases in the state’s contribution to our insurance premium: 10% increase effective Jan. 2016 and 8% effective Jan. 2017
The picture today:
Right now, state revenues are not as robust as they were in 2013 and 2015. Due to downturns in the oil and gas economy in Eastern Montana, the State of Montana anticipates less oil and gas revenue coming into the state budget. The state also anticipates less income tax revenue, because some workers in the oil and gas industry have experienced layoffs.
Because of the current revenue projections, the governor’s office has taken a more cautious fiscal stance for this upcoming biennium. The state employee pay plan tentative agreement reflects that caution.
What happens next with the pay plan:
Members and leaders of MEA-MFT, MPEA, and AFSCME will work with Governor Bullock’s office to get the pay plan passed through the 2017 Montana Legislature, which convenes in early January 2017.
We’ll need every state employee to help. Given the makeup of the 2017 Legislature, the only way we can get this increase through is for state employees across Montana to contact their legislators when we ask them. That’s how we won the increases in the 2013 and 2015 legislatures. It’s the only way we can win in the 2017 session.
Please be ready to take action! This is about your paycheck!