February 18, 2013

Eric Feaver, MEA-MFT President, 442-4250
Quint Nyman, Montana Public Employees Assoc. Exec. Director, 442-4600
Timm Twardoski, AFSCME Exec. Director, 442-1192

State and university employees ask legislators to pass HB 13 at State Pay Plan Day of Action, Feb. 18

Around 100 state and higher education employees from across Montana used their Presidents Day holiday today to gather in Helena for a second State Pay Plan Day of Action
in support of HB 13, the state pay plan. The first Day of Action took place Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Today’s event began on the north steps of the state capitol with several speakers, including the sponsor of House Bill 13, Representative Kathy Swanson of Anaconda. Other
speakers included several rank-and-file members of the three state employee unions that bargained the pay plan agreement with the Schweitzer administration last year: Chris
Abbott, a public defender in Helena (AFSCME member); Molly Anderson, Montana State University library employee in Bozeman (MPEA member); and Rich Aarstad, Montana Historical Society employee in Helena (MEA-MFT member).

Speakers talked about the importance of HB 13, which provides a 5% base pay increase each of the next two years. State employee base salaries have been frozen going on five years, while private sector salaries have increased an average of 8%. State and university employees live and shop in communities all across the state, so the increase will help local businesses and economies, the speakers said. HB 13 was heard in the House Appropriations Committee nearly a month ago; the committee has yet to take action. 

Following the speakers, Day of Action participants took fact sheets, commitment cards, and buttons saying “5/5, Keep it Alive, Montana State Employees” to legislators in the capitol. They also took cookies decorated to match the buttons. The cookies were baked and decorated by Park Avenue Bakery in Helena. Like many businesses statewide, Park Avenue owner Renee Kowalski is a strong supporter of Montana state employees, saying they are friends, neighbors, family, and customers to small businesses all across Montana.  

###   (See also Facts on HB 13, the State Pay Plan)