State employee union members ratify pay plan agreement

6-27-12

Reporters listen as MEA-MFT member Charlie Martin, a Billings probation & parole officer and member of the unions' joint bargaining team, announces the tentative agreement.

Rank-and-file state employee members of MEA-MFT and our fellow unions have voted overwhelmingly to ratify the pay plan agreement negotiated earlier this month.

 

"Now we must win the next election," said MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver.

 

"If we want this pay plan, We must elect Steve Bullock and  legislators who value state and all other public employees and the work they do that matters."

 

More in news article below:

Unions ratify pay proposal

IR State Bureau June 27, 2012

 

By large majorities, members of the three public employee unions separately ratified a proposal negotiated with the Schweitzer administration to raise their base pay by 5 percent in each of the next two years.

 

Under the proposal, employees would get across-the-board pay raises of 5 percent starting July 1, 2012, and 5 percent a year later.

 

It also calls for increasing the state’s health insurance contribution by 10 percent in each year of the upcoming biennium.

 

The proposed deal would cost up to $138 million from all sources of funds, including $71 million from the state general fund, state Budget Director Dan Villa has said.

 

The negotiated deal is subject to the approval of the 2013 Legislature.

 

Here were the separate ratification votes by union:

 

n Montana Public Employees Association, which represents 3,248 state workers: 98 percent for the deal and 2 percent against it.

 

n MEA-MFT, which represents 1,974 state workers: 98 percent for it and 2 percent against it.

 

n American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Montana Council 9, which represents 741 state workers: 95 percent for and 5 percent against it.

 

Included in these numbers are 480 workers at the state Revenue Department who are jointly represented by MPEA and MEA-MFT.

 

Before the 2009 Legislature, when state revenues were falling because of the national recession, these unions voluntarily agreed to a two-year freeze of their base pay for those making more than $45,000 a year. Those making less than $45,000 received a one-time $450 payment. The Legislature concurred.

 

Before the 2011 Legislature, the unions and Schweitzer administration agreed on a pay deal calling for a 1 percent raise in base pay in January 2012 and a 3 percent increase a year later.

 

The 2011 Legislature, however, rejected the deal so state workers’ base pay has been frozen, although a number of employees have received pay hikes from their directors through a broadband pay plan.

 

Unions filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the Legislature. However, the state Board of Personnel Appeals ruled against the unions, saying that the Legislature has the final say because it has the power of appropriation.

 

 

Background

 
June 11, 2012 – Rank-and-file members of the unions’ joint negotiating team today announced a tentative agreement with the State of Montana, through the governor’s office, on a state pay plan for 2013-15.

 

The TA calls for a 5% salary increase for all state employees each year of the biennium. In addition, it calls for a 10% increase in the state’s contribution to state employees’ health insurance each year of the biennium.

 

The unions’ joint bargaining team includes members of MEA-MFT and our fellow public employee unions, MPEA and AFSCME.  These three unions represent most of Montana’s state employees. They have had several negotiating sessions with the governor’s office over the past several weeks.

 

Members of the three unions must now vote to ratify the tentative agreement. Then the agreement goes to the 2013 state legislature for ratification. IT MATTERS WHO GETS ELECTED TO THE NEXT LEGISLATURE!

 

Listen to radio news story.

Unions, governor agree to pay hike; deal subject to legislative approval

y CHARLES S. JOHNSON IR State Bureau | Tuesday, June 12, 2012

 

State workers would receive base pay raises of 5 percent in each of the next two years under

a tentative deal reached Monday with the Schweitzer administration, but the 2013 Legislature will have to approve it.

 

The unions announced the deal at a hurried press conference on the steps of the Capitol after the deal was reached earlier in the day.

 

It also calls for increasing the state’s share of employees’ health insurance premiums by 10 percent in each of the next two years.

 

The total cost of the pay proposal is up to $138 million from all sources of funds, including $71 million from the state general fund, state Budget Director Dan Villa said.

 

The proposed deal, which would affect 15,000 to 16,000 employees, will go to the 2013 Legislature, which has the final say in appropriating the money for the raises.

 

The Republican-controlled Legislature last year refused to pass a deal negotiated by the unions and the Democratic governor’s administration calling for a 1 percent raise in January 2012 and a 3 percent hike in January 2013.

 

That left state workers with a freeze in their base pay for this two-year period on top of one experienced by many the previous two years.

 

Public employee unions voluntarily agreed in 2009 to take a two-year freeze in their base pay because of declining state revenues during the national recession. Under the deal, those making less than $45,000 received a one-time $450 payment, while those making $45,000 or more saw their base pay frozen.

 

Negotiating the deal were the MEA-MFT, Montana Public Employees Association and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 9.

 

Union members praised Schweitzer and his administration for agreeing to the deal.

 

“Public employees have had their wages frozen for approximately three years,” said one of the negotiators, Charlie Martin, a state probation and parole officer, whose local is represented by MEA-MFT. “This agreement honors the hard work and the dedication of all state employees across Montana.”

 

Dan Dolan, MPEA’s president of MPEA’s board of directors, said, “As state employees, we have helped shoulder the economic recovery of the state of Montana. But our work has just started. We need to change some minds and change some opinions.”

 

Doug Rotondi, a treatment technician at the Montana Chemical Dependency Center in Butte, whose local is represented by AFSCME, said, “The retention of state employees is very important to the people of Montana, and with this economic package that we received today, it will bring us closer to being compensated fairly with those in the private sector.”

 

Schweitzer, who was in Washington state attending a Western Governors’ Association meeting, had no immediate comment on the deal.

 

In response to a question, Larry Nielsen of the MEA-MFT said he was “very confident” about the chances of the Legislature passing the pay deal next year.

 

He said he was confident the 15,000-16,000 state employees had the “dedication to go out and do the right thing, to elect the right Legislature and to lobby that Legislature and to guarantee that state employees are honored for the hard work they do.”

 

Nielsen said there is sufficient money in the state general fund surplus, which tops $400 million, to pay for the pay plan.

 

The unions originally asked for raises of 6 percent each year, while the state countered with raises of 4 percent. On Monday, the state agreed to unions’ proposal for 5 percent raises each year.

 

After the 2011 Legislature rejected the pay deal, the three public employee unions filed an unfair labor complaint against the Legislature. Last month, the state Board of Personnel Appeals dismissed the unions’ complaint. The unions said then they may appeal that decision to District Court.

 

 

 

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