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April 20, 2014
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What's New at the Montana AFL-CIO
Montana CEOs Paid 61 Times Average Worker, 135 Times Minimum Wage Worker

2014 Executive PayWatch exposes high paid CEOs in the low wage economy

Helena, MT, April 15, 2014 – According to the AFL-CIO’s 2014 Executive PayWatch website, the average CEO of a company based in Montana made $2.2 million, 61 times more than the $36,294 earned by the average Montana worker. When compared to the earnings of minimum wage workers who make $7.90 per hour in Montana, the gap between CEO and worker pay jumps up to a 135:1 ratio. 

In 2013, the highest paid CEO in the state of Montana was now-retired CEO Frank McAllister of Stillwater Mining Company who made almost $5 million in 2013 including salary, the value of his stock awards and other compensation. Two of the three highest paid Montana CEOs are in banking. Michael Blodnick, of Glacier Bancorp Inc. headquartered in Kalispell, made over $1 million. Edward Garding, of First Interstate Bancsystem headquartered in Billings, made $856,279. 

While wages stagnate for most workers, the nation’s largest companies are earning higher profits per employee than they did five years ago. In 2013, the S&P 500 Index companies earned $41,249 in profits per employee, a 38% increase.

“In Montana we are working every day to bring workers together and raise wages.  In 2006, we were proud that the labor movement was the main funding source for the Raise Montana Initiative that passed with an overwhelming 73% approval by Montana voters,” said Al Ekblad, executive secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO.

The initiative, I-151,  raised Montana’s minimum wage and implemented an automatic annual cost of living increase so as inflation rises, the buying power of the minimum wage worker doesn’t decrease.

“In the 60’s, CEO pay was 40 times what the average worker earned. If wages had kept pace with the increase in worker productivity, the minimum wage today would be at least $18 an hour. Montana working families deserve a fair share of the profits they make. It’s not right that the CEOs get such an enormous lion’s share of the reward.  In this year’s elections, our endorsements of John Lewis for the U.S. House of Representatives and John Walsh for the U.S. Senate were decisions made based on their views including their willingness to support a federal minimum wage increase ,”explained Ekblad.

This CEO PayWatch website is an effective tool to show Montana workers that it is time for CEOs to compensate their hard working employees fairly, once and for all,” said Richard Trumka, president of the national AFL-CIO.

PayWatch is the most comprehensive searchable online database tracking the excessive pay of CEOs of the nation’s largest companies. It offers visitors to the website the unique ability to compare their own pay to the pay of top executives.

Controversy and Warning

Greg Gianforte and True Higher Education Leadership

By Eric Feaver, president of MEA-MFT

Apparently this year Greg Gianforte has a corner on the higher education speaker circuit.

I wonder if and when other innovators, entrepreneurs of a different sort, such as advocates of public education; representatives of organized labor; opponents of bigotry, racism and discrimination; and proponents of the social compact will receive their invitations to be seen and heard by our college and university graduates. 

Higher Ed leadership could start here - or here or here or even here

Successful businessman he is, but Greg Gianforte would also privatize our public schools and turn them into religious academies at public expense for his own personal and ideological gain.  He would smash our democracy into constituent parts.  He is no scientist.  So, when he announces his candidacy for governor, don’t forget the whole agenda.  All if it.

Gianforte will deliver Rocky commencement speech, despite controversy


BOZEMAN businessman Greg Gianforte will speak during Rocky Mountain College’s May 3commencement ceremonies, despite a controversy over an invitation for him and his wife, Susan, to speak at Montana Tech's graduation. Gianforte founded the software engineering company RightNow Technologies, which he sold to Oracle in 2012 for $1.5 billion. The electrical engineer and computer scientist is now managing director of the Bozeman Technology Incubator.

But Gianforte's other activities had some Montana Tech faculty and students threatening to boycott commencement. There is some dismay on the Butte campus over Gianforte’s involvement with an affiliate of the conservative Focus on the Family and with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative political think tank in Washington, D.C., the Montana Standard reported Thursday.

The Gianforte Family Foundation also made a donation in 2009 to the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, which holds a biblical perspective that the world was created a few thousand years ago and that dinosaurs lived at the same time as humans. Professors at Tech say those beliefs are in direct opposition to the science taught on campus.

Some Tech faculty also took issue with Susan Gianforte's recent opposition to a proposed ordinance in Bozeman that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

RMC President Bob Wilmouth defended Rocky's invitation to Greg Gianforte, saying “business is our largest department and everybody is involved in technology in some way. We thought this would be an absolute perfect match.” Still, Steve Germic, associate professor of English and acting academic vice president, said the issue would be discussed Wednesday during a meeting of the Faculty Executive Committee.

Greg Gianforte couldn’t be reached for comment, but on Tuesday in a column in the Montana Standard, he wrote that he believes “discrimination of any kind is flat-out wrong.”“I built my business by hiring the best people based on ability, not ideology — period,” he wrote. “I owe my success to the principles of freedom and liberty on which this nation was founded.”

The best way to fight discrimination and level the playing field is to help people attain a strong education, he said. In 2012, he and his wife pledged $4.6 million to provide scholarships to low- and moderate-income children in the state to attend private K-12 schools.

At RMC, Wilmouth said that when commencement organizers discussed a speaker for this year's commencement, their focus was on finding someone who would give a positive, high-energy message. “We think that commencement is for our students and their families after a job well done,” he said. “And we want them to understand that learning is lifelong and that making good, bold decisions in life and reaching for the stars and always going for your dreams is attainable.”

Organizers thought Gianforte could deliver that message, based on his own business successes, Wilmouth said. "We thought he'd deliver a very strong, consistent message to get them off into the world." Wilmouth said he was sorry to hear about the controversy. “We pride ourselves in being the college that we are, that we are open to different viewpoints,” he said. “We don’t tolerate violence, hatred or discrimination on our campus.”

*You can read Gianforte’s Montana Standard op-ed here -

NAFTA after 20 Years/TPP Parallels NAFTA by Great Falls Tribune
Al Ekblad, executive secretary of the Montana State AFL-CIO, said, " in the end we are eliminating the middle class" and displacing that population into "people who need subsidies." Read More...
Download: nafta after 20 years GF trib march 2014.pdf
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
Machinists Union Wins Key Decision at Leskovar in Butte
 When Leskovar Motors in Butte, Montana tried to unilaterally withdraw recognition of IAM Local 88 as the bargaining agent for all Leskovar Parts and Service Department Employees and engage in other improper activity against employees, the IAM responded by filing unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Read More...

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