MINERAL COUNTY, Mont. — With county commissioners finally agreeing to engage in wage negotiations for a new county mining contract, striking workers have agreed to end their holdout and return to work as representatives begin the negotiation process, according to NBC Montana.
Mineral County miners were striking over what they claimed were unsubstantial wage figures enforced in a previously agreed to union contract.
In response to the strike, county mine commissioners cut off insurance for all striking workers, a move whose legality is now under investigation by a Teamsters 2 union leader.
Negotiations were to take place on June 15 between county commissioners, union representatives, detention center employees and their various attorneys. The announcement of these negotiations brought jubilation from representatives of striking workers.
Said detention supervisor Viki Stansbury, “I am very excited! I am so glad we finally have a date set for mediation. It’s been a rough road, but we’re happy to sit down and get all the details of our new contract hammered out.”
However, some of the most relieved individuals were workers who remained in the mines and had to compensate for the temporary worker shortage.
When asked to offer his reaction to the news that the mines will return to full employment strength, dispatch supervisor and Superior Mayor Roni Phillips answered, “Awesome, I am ready to go home and take some naps and play with my grandchildren.”
As all Mineral County miners return to work, many are pleased that the county financial team did not cut existing wages or eliminate worker seniority in response to the strike, although the aforementioned insurance cancellation policy will be subjected to continued investigation.
Important Montana Employment Regulation Information
Montana employment regulations are relatively standard across the United States in which their state regulations fit within the scope of the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide tailored protection to workers in the predominant state industries.
A unique policy instituted by Montana state law is the automatic yearly inflation adjustment that is applied to the state minimum wage.
Montana state minimum wage is currently $8.05 with it subject to change no later than September 30th of each calendar year. In the minimum wage changing year-by-year, it is sometimes difficult to ensure that an employer is following overtime wage laws as they were designed to be carried out.
Regardless of the original wage rate, if an employee is not granted exempt status they are to be paid 150% of their standard wage for all hours worked over 40 in any standard 7-day week. These overtime hours include “off-the-clock” duties, breaks lasting less than 20 minutes, and pre/post-shift duties among other qualifying activities.
For instance, a worker being paid the current minimum wage rate who works 50 hours per week would be legally required to earn $12.08 for the 10 hours worked above the standard 40 hour work week.
If an employer has engaged in any deceptive wage withholding tactics, an employee has the right to pursue legal action to acquire all previously unpaid overtime wages.
Employer tactics often include spreading out overtime hours to proceeding weeks, exchanging overtime hours for insufficient time-off periods, and misclassifying nonexempt employees as overtime exempt.