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Negotiations between prison, employees union to continue

Montana State Prison

The Richard C. Wallace Building at the Montana State Prison is named for a correctional officer who was killed when a propane tank exploded while a Department of Corrections administrative building was under construction.

Negotiations between the Montana State Prison officials and the employees union ended Thursday without a new collective bargaining agreement, although the threat of a strike appears to have subsided for now.

The Federation of Montana State Prison Employees Local 4700 voted 60-0 earlier this month to engage in concerted activity, a step toward a potential strike, to address what the union calls inadequate pay, poor and unsafe working conditions, and long hours. The union also alleged staff are subjected to "harassment, threats, retaliation and bullying on a daily basis."

The union met Thursday with the director of the Montana Department of Corrections, Montana State Prison Warden Jim Salmonsen and human resources officials in Helena on Thursday to continue negotiations, although the parties did not reach an agreement on conditions Thursday, the Montana Federation of Public Employees told the Montana State News Bureau. Negotiations are expected to continue, and a strike is not immediately forthcoming, the state employees' union confirmed Friday.

Aaron Meaders, president of the Local 4700, previously said the union is "willing to do what we must" to meet the employees' needs, while the Department of Corrections said it was "disappointed" in the union's vote and added the "safety of our staff remains of utmost importance to the DOC."

Montana State News Bureau

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