The Ravalli County Commissioners last week declared an impasse had been reached with the Ravalli Deputy County Attorney Association in contract negotiations and then voted to implement the wage portion of the last and final wage offer in the negotiations, but not the full contract, although Commission Chair Chris Hoffman said that he believed there was tentative agreement on the contract language outside the wages.
In their motion, the Commissioners agreed to a 4.88% COLA increase for the RDCAA employees retroactive to July 1, 2019, a .25% base pay increase, 1% longevity increase and that the starting salary for a new employee shall not be less than $55,000 a year.
Members of RDCAA recently filed a lawsuit against the county commissioners, claiming that the county illegally withheld the 4.88% COLA increase from their pay when it was being given to all other employees.
The complaint quoted from the County Employees Handbook: “Ravalli County employees who are not subject to a CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) will receive the COLA amount set by the BCC.” The attorneys argued that since they had no agreement with the county yet, they should be treated like every other employee.
An attorney working for the county, Kathryn Mahe of Garlington, Lohn and Robinson in Missoula, responded for the county at that time, arguing that the County was not required to pay RDCAA members the COLA increase because the RDCAA and the County were “in active negotiations, including negotiations regarding the applicability of the employee handbook, the entitlements to COLA, and wages in general.”
It is not clear what effect the county’s decision to implement the “wages part” of the Collective Bargaining Agreement but not the whole contract will have on the lawsuit. No attorneys from either side responded to inquiries in time for publication.