'07 State pay plan
State pay plan agreement
reached, ratified, passed, signed!
March 28, 2007, Governor Schweitzer signed into law the new pay plan for Montana state employees.
The pay plan was developed by the bargaining team for state employees and Governor Schweitzer's administration. Union members ratified the agreement in a mail-in vote in December.
In March, the pay plan, contained in House Bill 13, finished its passage through the 2007 Montana Legislature.
"I think we did very well," said MEA-MFT member Linda Nichols, a licensed addictions counselor at Montana State Prison and member of the union bargaining team. "I think the governor was very fair to us."
"There's a lot of money on the table," said team member Beth McKenzie, president of MEA-MFT's Department of Revenue Local #4993.
In dollar terms, McKenzie said, it's the largest economic package state employees have received in over a decade.
This is the first time in nearly three decades that state employees will receive significant pay increases in consecutive two-year time periods (biennia).
The union bargaining team included 35 members of MEA-MFT; Montana Public Employees Association; and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
The agreement (pdf file) was reached November 14.
All priorities met
"I want to compliment our bargaining team at the highest level," said MEA-MFT Field Consultant Tom Burgess, who helped with the bargaining.
"They did a great job of sticking to our priorities. Their commitment is what carried us through to this agreement."
Top priorities for the unions' bargaining team included: 1) a base salary increase for all state employees, 2) longevity increase, and 3) health care increases.
"We established from the beginning that we need to focus on the base increase," Burgess continued. "We could have gotten bogged down in a lot of things, but the team was committed to a base increase, and that's what they did."
Some specifics of the agreement:
A 3.0% salary increase will be distributed across the board, effective October 1 in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.
0.6% will be appropriated to state agencies for reasons such as market progression, performance, or competencies.
The state will increase its health insurance premium share by $33 per month (to $590 per month) effective January 2008, and by $36 per month (to $626 per month) effective January 2009.
Longevity pay increase at year 10 will move up from 1.5% to 2%.
The total gain for state employees is $105 million. "That's a lot of money, and we didn't give up anything to get it," Burgess said. "Any time you open up a contract, there's a risk of losing something. We didn't lose anything."
"I was impressed by the bargaining process--so many people from different walks of life and areas of government," said Nichols. "It's great that we can all work together toward common goals for everyone."