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Watters v. City of Billings

Watters v. City of Billings, 2017 MT 211 (Aug. 28, 2017) (Rice, J.; Wheat, J., dissenting) (5-2, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by holding the CBAs were unambiguous and excluding extrinsic evidence concerning their interpretation.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Officers are current and retired police officers and members of the union, which collectively bargains with the city. The central dispute in this case is the correct interpretation of the longevity pay provisions in the 2000-2003, 2003-2006, and 2006-2009 CBAs.…

Mashek v. Dept. of Public Health & Human Svcs.

Mashek v. Dept. of Public Health & Human Svcs., 2016 MT 86 (April 12, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the hearing officer and district court erred in holding that the statutory Broadband Pay Plan factors preempt the collective bargaining process.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: Plaintiffs are compliance specialists for the Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) of DPHHS, pay band 6, employed by the state and belonging to MEA-MFT Local 4573. The collective bargaining agreements to which 4573 and the state are parties have two-year terms beginning on July 1 of odd years and ending on June 30 two years later. In May 2011, while Local 4573 was negotiating for the 2011-2013 contract period, plaintiffs filed a complaint against the department alleging that their pay was not “internally equitable” in comparison with pay band 6 compliance specialists in other state agencies, in violation of § 2-18-301(4), MCA.…