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December 21, 2014
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What's New at the Montana AFL-CIO
Community Medical Center Maintenance Workers Win 1st Union Contract as Operating Engineers!

A group of ten skilled workers at Community Medical Center in Missoula, Montana who won the right to collectively bargain through a union election held in August of 2013, ratified their first union contract on Thursday, March 13th.

The workers, now represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local #400 (IUOE), manage the maintenance of the heating & ventilation systems, electrical systems, and building maintenance at the facility as well as managing gas tanks related to patient care. 

"They are highly-skilled, licensed, and dedicated long-term employees who have been left behind when it comes to fair compensation for their work. They have been making $80 to $90 a week less than others doing the same type of work at other medical facilities in Missoula," said Craig Davis, Missoula-area representative for the IUOE. 

Tom Findlay, who has been working for Community Medical for twenty five years, said he chose union representation out of concern for, "a recent inability to create a safe and comfortable work environment". 

"I asked for uniforms to be cotton because we work with steam. They have been giving us polyester uniforms because it's cheaper but polyester shrinks, then melts and burns the skin when its exposed to steam," said Mike Behner, who has ten years of employment at the facility. Mike said he chose union representation because, "management hasn't been listening."

Among the top issues in contract negotiations for the ten Operating Engineers that are covered by the new agreement, was establishing a grievance procedure that would allow workers to address safety concerns that mandates steps to achieve resolution. The facility has underground tunnels that workers crawl through - some up to 100 feet - to reach structures to perform maintenance. The workers also perform maintenance on exhaust fans and air conditoning units which require the engineers to perform work dangerously close to the edge of the roof. 

Chris Cotten, who has been working at the Medical Center for four and a half years, said he voted for the union because, "The voices of employees didn't matter in decision-making and upkeep of preventive maintenance of the facility."

John Riordan, Butte representative for the IUOE who also worked on the contract negotiations which lasted seven months, said, "In the end the employer listened to workers and recognized their concerns, and their first contract is a great first step in developing a better relationship between labor and management, considerably better working conditions and a better operating facility."

Other employees at Community Medical Center are already represented by the Montana Nurses Association and American Federation of State, County, and Municial Employees (AFSCME). 

New Manufacturing Eye-Openers
Pensions for the Future
 Anything Less is No Pnesion Plan at All By Jerry Rukavina A couple of weeks ago the financial focus was “America Saves Week”, a time period in which Americans are encouraged to foster good saving habits. The premise is that a healthy savings account means a better lifestyle. This theory is especially important when retirement is considered. Read More...
Assault on Working Class Will End When Voters Say 'Enough'!
State Senator Bruce Tutvedt’s article entitled “Stand up for state, not big labor” seems to outline more than just his opinions concerning organized labor. Read More...
Pensions with a Future

If It Isn't Defined Benefit it isn't a Pension

By Mark Anderlik, President of the Missoula Area Central Labor Council

Ask anyone, Americans believe in making a safe investment in the future—whether that be via a good education, or by investing in a retirement plan for their golden years. However, secure pensions are getting harder and harder to come by. What we as Americans need to do is to recognize defined benefits plans as the ONLY safe investments in our future.

As of right now there are two distinct types of retirement plans; defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) plans. Defined Benefit is a traditional pension – pay in and it pays out - period. Defined Contribution, however, works by investing your pension contributions in the stock market, with absolutely no guarantee that you will ever see a penny of benefit when you retire.

Think of it like this: defined contribution or DC equals “Definite Crap-shoot”.

I want to have a safe investment to fall back on when I reach retirement age. Everyone does. After a long working career, it is well earned. Investing in a defined contribution plan simply doesn’t afford a person any security. I don’t want to be breaking my back at 80 because my pension was lost on Wall Street. I don’t think Montana’s public employees should be doing it either. The Montana State Legislature should fix the retirement systems that public workers rely on and in doing so, insist on ONLY defined-benefit plans for Montana workers.

Tester Gets It Right on USPS Executive Pay
 Tester criticizes Postal Service execs for refusing lower pay Senator questions executive salaries as Postal Service considers drastic cuts  (U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is taking the leaders of the U.S. Postal Service to task, demanding that executives be willing to cut their own salaries as they propose cuts to the nation’s mail service. Read More...

 
 
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