After a long and arduous negotiation and mediation, the Fairview Education Association (FEA) has secured up to $500,000 in bonuses for its members. It goes without saying that Montana’s educators are incredible and selfless. Anyone who doubts that hasn’t been paying attention throughout this pandemic. However, when FEA went to the table to negotiate with their board, they were met with the same offer they receive every negotiation: no new money on the salary scale and no bonus.
In the past, FEA and the board have been able to settle on a set dollar amount for bonuses. This year the board was adamant that educators accept 12% of the oil and gas revenue. FEA declined the board’s low ball offer and went to mediation.
“The mediator was clear that each proposal had to move closer to a resolution,” said Lynn Shelmerdine and Janine Danielson. “The final proposal from them was 16% of the oil and gas revenue with a cap of $500,000. All three board members signed the proposal.”
FEA’s seven-member negotiation team had stood strong and secured a workable proposal, but the news got even better. “When we learned the amount of the latest quarterly oil and gas payment, we realized that we could quite possibly reach the cap this year,” said Shelmerdine and Danielson.
Shelmerdine and Danielson say that their negotiation team was guided by FEA’s membership, which did not want to go backward on their total compensation package, including salary, bonuses, and insurance. The negotiating team met frequently to strategize and kept membership updated through in-person and virtual meetings.
Congratulations to FEA members on using their union power to direct oil and gas revenues straight into the local economy through increasing wages in the Fairview community! When union members negotiate higher wages, economies flourish and communities thrive.