The Independent Record reported recently that City Manager Ana Cortez was directed by the Helena City Commission "to consider applying a percentage salary change to be negotiated by the Helena Police Protective Association to all city employees except directors and managers." That has some serious implications.

Let's say that HPPA can show that they are 8% behind the market, which during some bargaining years is not out of the realm of possibility. Let's say they arbitrate and prevail, which commonly can happen in Montana. Eight percent raises for all 325 or so employees of the city of Helena is a significant addition to overall personnel costs in Helena's budget (including costs to cover pensions and some payroll taxes which are tied to base wages). This increase would likely apply to other labor unions which typically have COLA adjustments tied to raises the commission gives to unrepresented employees. Those are some serious financial consequences. The commission needs to think that one through some more.

Sean Logan


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