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Montana’s working families are what make Montana the last best place. It’s a place where you can find a good job and a great quality of life. Workers know there is common ground between protecting dignified jobs with wages that support a family and a clean environment for all to enjoy. I-186 attacks that balance and sacrifices the good jobs by putting in place standards that are undefined and probably unattainable. That’s why the Montana AFL-CIO is opposing I-186.

We are incredibly disappointed by the out-of-state special interests who have chosen to put I-186 on the ballot. Not only will I-186 kill family wage jobs and prevent more from being created, the ballot initiative is so poorly written that no one knows exactly what it will do — not even the lawyers that drafted it. What I’m sure it will accomplish is creating an avalanche of lawsuits, which is good for lawyers, but very bad for workers.

The Montana Legislative Services review of I-186 pointed out a number of overly unclear and confusing sections, ill-defined terms, and conflicting legal standards. I-186, at a minimum, will require additional rulemaking and additional legislation, which will then be followed by litigation.

Mining provides thousands of jobs in communities that would not otherwise offer middle class employment opportunities. Real jobs that pay a wage that can support a family, has health insurance and a retirement. These good paying jobs exist in large part because of past and current work done by organized workers and their unions who have turned what could have been low-wage, dangerous jobs into family-supporting, middle class jobs that require high skills. I-186 threatens all of this.

If I-186 becomes law, thousands of union jobs could be at risk.

Montana already has some of the most stringent mining permitting requirements in the world that work to ensure mining operations are strictly regulated and operated responsibly. That’s the way it should be. I-186 is an unnecessary law funded by out-of-state special interests who have no understanding of hard rock mining and no real interest in Montana workers and family wage jobs.

I-186 is a confusing initiative that will produce bad policy. The Montana AFL-CIO urges workers to vote no on I-186.

Al Ekblad is the executive secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO. 


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