We are Montana

Our Point of View
by MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver

Jan-Feb 2013

We are Montana.

Don't let anyone tell you differently. Don't let naysayers, boo birds, and anti-government, anti-union yahoos tell you differently. We are NOT Wisconsin. We are NOT Indiana. We are NOT Michigan.


We are Montana.


131 years ago, we helped start this place. We have earned our right to live, work, and add value right here.


We began as frontier teachers schooling children of gold miners, cowboys, trappers, traders, farmers, and merchants. We taught Sunday school. We shopped on Main Street. We built communities. We do all that today and a whole lot more. 
We nurse the ill. We guard the convict and supervise the parolee. We collect the taxes. We preserve our fish and game. We secure and interpret the history of our state. We coach Little League. We go off to war. We do the work that matters across the spectrum of good government programs and services designed to make our "last best place" a good place for all.


Come the next legislature, we will promote AND defend who we are and what we do . . . come what may.


Knowing the next legislature may be every bit as challenging as the "Bat Crap Crazy" last legislature, we have trimmed our legislative agenda to project only our strongest core values. No bells. No whistles. Just good old fashioned middle class building legislation.


• A base pay increase of 5% each of the next two years for all state employees. Call it 5&5. Way past time.


• A common sense, doable fix of our two primary public employee pension systems, PERS and TRS. We will "share the pain" and amortize. We keep our promises.


• A robust "Play to Win" lottery-funded college scholarship program.


• A measurable increase in employer funding of our badly conceived, perversely mislabeled Montana University System faculty "optional retirement plan."


• Adequate and equitable funding of public elementary, secondary, and higher education.


Not one of these objectives lies hopelessly beyond our reach. Our legislature has never enjoyed greater capacity to invest in the future of our state.


With your help, we can make all this happen.


And with your help, we will defend the faith.


We will defeat those who would

• Desecrate our history, culture, and constitution to privatize our public schools.


• Trash 100 years of teacher tenure.


• Destroy our pensions, kill careers in public schools and government, and ironically bury this state in "old fund" debt.


• Drown this union and the government programs we serve in a no tax, no spend bath tub.


And we will stand shoulder to shoulder with carpenters, teamsters, linemen, firefighters, operators, laborers, unionists everywhere to push back hard against right-to-work-for-less and all other assaults on the Montana labor movement, middle class, and social compact.


It will be hard. Bitter words may be shared. Folks may congregate, hold signs, and mill about. Some may let their voices soar. Some may pound drums. Others may whisper concern, fright, and despair.


And despite entreaties to the contrary, some legislators will shut their ears, eyes, and minds, brush aside our presence, and vote wrong.


They are not us.


We are Montana.