Public employees file complaint over pay plan

Three Montana public employee unions representing state employees will file an unfair labor practice complaint against the state of Montana today.

MEA-MFT, the Montana Public Employees Association, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced at a press conference at the Capitol this morning that they planned to submit the complaint to the state Board of Personnel Appeals.

If the Board of Personnel Appeals finds in favor of the three unions, the unions will demand that the state come back to the bargaining table to negotiate. Union leaders said this could force the Legislature to return to Helena for a special session to ratify a pay plan agreement.

“The legislative majority left us with no other option but legal action,” MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver said in a statement to union members. “We will not stand by and allow them to roll Montana’s state employees under the bus.”

The unions in November negotiated with Gov. Brian Schweitzer for a salary increase of 1 percent in 2012 and 3 percent in 2013. Union members ratified the pay plan deal later that month.

However, Legislature failed to approve the pay plan during the Legislative session, freezing state workers’ salaries for another two years. The state employees’ unions agreed to a pay freeze during the 2009 session to help ease the state budget during the recession.