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Yellowstone County reaches tentative agreement with courthouse employees

Yellowstone County Courthouse.jpg
Posted at 7:32 PM, Jan 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-19 08:05:31-05

BILLINGS - Yellowstone County and its largest union reached a tentative agreement Wednesday, possibly avoiding a strike for about 120 courthouse employees who have been working without a contract since July.

The county negotiating team and the Montana Federation Of Public Employees (MFPE) went into mediation on Wednesday and reached an agreement, which must still be approved by the full membership.

“We met today with the intention of coming to an agreement to avoid any disruption in service to the citizens of Yellowstone County,” said Yellowstone County Employees Union President Katie Cosby. “Our agreement includes needed raises and better benefits. I’m proud of our members for securing these wins and for their faith in their bargaining team. We are grateful for the support given to us by the community and our members.”

The tentative agreement includes wage increases in the first year ranging from 9 percent to 24.6 percent, according to Commissioner John Ostlund, who is part of the county negotiating team.

Ostlund also said the county will be able to bring in experienced employees at a higher wage without union approval.

But he did say the union could bring up something it finds wrong with the process.

“Both sides came out very well,” Ostlund said. “We’re happy it’s over. We value our employees and we’re happy to get back to the work that’s in front of us.”

An MFPE spokesman says a contract ratification vote will be held next week.

Related: Yellowstone County workers agree on wages, disagree on management issue