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Public Safety Employees On Strike In Mineral County

Sheriff truck.
Josh Burnham
Montana Public Radio
Most public safety employees, including sheriff’s deputies, remain on strike in Mineral County.";

Most public safety employees, including sheriff’s deputies, remain on strike in Mineral County today. Sixteen county workers, including jail and 911 dispatch staff started picketing in front of the county courthouse in Superior Monday.

Union representative Shawn Fontaine says they notified county commissioners of their intent to strike Friday.

Speaking from the picket line today, Fontaine said striking employees share the public safety concerns others in the county have with deputies and dispatchers off the job.

"There’s been some former detention and dispatch officers that have gone in and are working inside right now. And even though they were union members, I’ve talked to them, and they said, look, we’re not trying to break your strike, so that made everyone on the picket line feel better."

Fontaine says Montana Highway Patrol is also providing extra emergency coverage if needed.

He said Mineral County’s public safety workers want better compensation to reduce rapid turnover, and for county commissioners to offer them at least 2-year contracts instead of new ones every year.

Mineral County Commissioners declined MTPR’s requests for interviews today. In a press release they saidthat, “On May 13 Mineral County made what it considered a 'fair' offer to employees at the Sheriff’s Office after considering the financial condition of the County, and the interests of all of the County’s employees. .... Unfortunately, demands for the County’s limited resources are increasing faster than financial resources available to the County.”

Click the link above for a copy of the full press release.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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