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Great Falls Public Schools office staff head to mediation over a pay dispute

Office staff in Great Falls Public Schools are heading to mediation over a pay dispute with district leadership. Staff have been without a contract since the end of June.

President of the Great Falls Association of Office Personnel, Daneen Pate, said compensation is lagging behind other other double-A districts in the state. Pate said that pay tops out between $16 and $20 per hour, even after decades on the job.

“We’d like to end our mediation having reached a fair agreement that brings our wages in line with other double-A school districts’ clerical staff,” Pate told MTPR.

A mediator from the state Department of Labor and Industry is set to help the office staff union and district leadership hammer out a deal starting Thursday. Pate said the district’s most recent offer was an hourly increase of 64 cents.

Great Falls Public Schools Superintendent Tom Moore said he understands concern over wages, but said inflation has outpaced state funding for schools in recent years. He said the district and office staff agreed in September to use mediation to move negotiation forward.

The office staff union is part of the state’s largest union of public employees. A spokesperson for the Montana Federation of Public Employees said the Helena Education Association is also going to mediation in November.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

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