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State, university system employees talk pay with legislators

By Emily Adamson, KECI Reporter, eadamson@keci.com
Published On: Jan 21 2013 04:28:52 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 21 2013 05:32:51 PM MST
HELENA, Mont. -

Hundreds of state and university system employees used their time off on Monday's holiday to talk to legislators about pay.

More than 200 people showed up in Helena to encourage lawmakers to pass a bill they say is long overdue.

"Two legislative sessions in a row have effectively frozen state employee base pay," said Eric Feaver, President of the Montana Education Association-Montana Federation of Teachers (MEA-MFT).  "So state employees and their colleagues from the university system are here to talk about 5 and 5."

Most of the supporters wore '5 and 5' buttons or stickers. It stands for the 5 percent increase in base pay each of the next two years, the increase is slightly different for university system employees.

In order to get that raise, they need state lawmakers to pass House Bill (HB) 13, the state employee pay plan. It's a plan supported by Governor Steve Bullock.

HB 13 comes after four years of frozen pay. In 2009 state employees voluntarily agreed to a pay freeze during the poor economy. Then in 2011, legislators chose not to act on the freeze, so it lasted another two years.

Now, they say there is enough money in the state's budget to fund the raise, and they are working are to try and make it happen.

"We hope to talk to 150 legislators and hope to...have them thinking about how important it is for state employees and university faculty be paid appropriately," said Feaver.

The hearing for House Bill 13 is scheduled for Wednesday. State employees hope their push ahead of time will get the bill passed.

To read the full text of HB 13 click here.