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Montana Mental Health Caseworkers File Unfair Labor Practices Complaint

A new union that formed in response to state budget cuts is now charging their employer with unfair labor practices. Adult mental health caseworkers accuse a state contractor of not bargaining in good faith.

The union, which formed in September, filed an unfair labor practice complaint Friday with the National Labor Relations Board.

They fear layoffs at Western Montana Mental Health Center in the wake of lawmakers cutting the amount Medicaid providers are paid due to the state’s quarter-billion dollar budget shortfall.

Cheryl Nguyen-Wishneski is a representative for the union.

"If layoffs have to happen, we want there to be a severance package," she says.

The state budget cuts union members fear most are currently on hold, but Nguyen-Wishneski and other health care workers, expect cuts to happen eventually.

She says union members want to be prepared with a bargaining agreement on layoffs, seniority, pay, and better treatment in the workplace.

The Western Montana Mental Health Center representative named in the labor  complaint did not return MTPR request for comment by airtime.

The union members say next Monday they plan to picket in protest of the lack of progress on a bargaining agreement.

Union organizers say they’ll next meet with Western Montana Mental Health Center management in early January.

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