MEA-MFT Government Relations

It’s a fact of life: every decision that affects public services is a political decision.


That’s why MEA-MFT has a comprehensive program to make sure our members’ voices are heard in political decisions on all levels—local, state, and national.


We help elect candidates who support you and the important work you do. And we work with officials once they are elected to make sure your voice is heard through our lobbying and advocacy.



Lauren Caldwell, Political Director

MEA-MFT’s candidate recommendation process involves hundreds of hours of research, scores of members doing interviews, and an exhaustive process to bring you the best information—always party blind and issue driven. Here’s how it works:

  • Local MEA-MFT members interview candidates of both parties about their positions on issues that affect our members, the work you do, and the people you serve. 

  • Local members consider the candidates’ interview responses, public statements, community service, and any voting records. 

  • Based on this research, local MEA-MFT members make a recommendation to MEA-MFT Committee On Political Education (COPE).

  • The 30 members of MEA-MFT COPE vote to recommend candidates who support MEA-MFT members, public education, and public services. 

  • MEA-MFT COPE uses mailings, e-mails, and meetings to communicate those recommendations to you, our members. 

The bottom line! MEA-MFT COPE never tells members how to vote. Instead, MEA-MFT COPE provides information members can consider when they decide how to vote.


MEA-MFT COPE funding: MEA-MFT does not use member dues dollars for political contributions. Instead, MEA-MFT members are asked to voluntarily donate funds through payroll deduction. The suggested donation per member is just three dollars a month.


Just as individual workers can’t challenge the power of their employer without collective bargaining, individual voters can’t change the political landscape without working together. COPE gives a powerful voice to people who otherwise would have little say in the political process.


You can help elect MEA-MFT recommended candidates who support you and your work.
Here’s how: 

  • Sign up for a monthly payroll deduction to MEA-MFT COPE.

  • Talk to fellow members, friends, and family about recommended candidates.

  • Volunteer. Whether going door to door, stuffing envelopes, putting up a yard sign, or hosting a coffee, there are many opportunities to help.

  • Run for office yourself! MEA-MFT members make great school board members, legislators, and statewide elected officials.

MEA-MFT’s Political Director Lauren Caldwell works in the Helena office. You can reach her at, 800.398.0826, or 442-4250.

Once the elections are over, MEA-MFT goes to work to make sure elected officials know where we stand on issues that affect our members.


Lobbying the legislature: When the Montana Legislature is in session, MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver and MEA-MFT staff bring our members’ issues to the Montana state legislature.


Whether advocating for adequate funding for public education, public services, and members’ pay, benefits, and working conditions, or stopping legislation that would harm our members and their work, MEA-MFT’s lobbying team works gavel to gavel to represent members at the legislature.


MEA-MFT’s legislative program is developed and voted on by members. At MEA-MFT Committee Weekend, held each December, about 100 members review legislative priorities and other issues. Their recommendations go to the MEA-MFT Representative Assembly, held each spring, for final approval.


Year-round representation: MEA-MFT’s leaders and staff work year-round to give you a voice in issues that affect you. We work with Montana’s members of Congress; state legislators; the governor's office; Public Employees' Retirement System; Teachers' Retirement System; other state, county, and locally elected officials; the Board of Regents; Board of Public Education; and many other entities, MEA-MFT’s influence is felt across the state.


Member advocacy: MEA-MFT provides training and support to help our members become effective advocates in government relations. Every legislative session, one member volunteer is assigned as a “legislative contact” for each Montana legislator Through phone calls, visits, and e-mails, MEA-MFT legislative contacts make the connection between proposed legislation and how it would affect a legislator’s own community.


The following staff members, all based in the Helena office, are responsible for government relations and advocacy:


Lauren Caldwell, Political Director
Marco Ferro, Public Policy Director
Diane Fladmo, Research Director