Despite $140 Million in Bonds, Future For Mountain Water Employees Still Uncertain
Though the Missoula City Council signed off on $140 million in bonds to purchase the Mountain Water Company on Monday, there’s still some uncertainty about who will be showing up for work when the city gains control. An attorney representing many of the Mountain Water Company employees says things are still not settled on how employees will be handled under the new ownership. Attorney Gary Zadick explains.
"Things like coming aboard at your current wages, not suffering a reduction in wages," said Zadick. "Health benefits for instance, if there is a waiting period to qualify for the city health plan cover the cobra premium on their old policies so no one has a gap in coverage or goes without health insurance in the turnover. Adjusting years of service credit and things for retirement so that people don't start over."
Zadick says the past three years have been difficult for employees and praised City Councilor Julie Armstrong for trying to mend fences with her formal apology to Mountain Water Employees.
"At times I am sure they felt like a step child or simply they had no control, you know a lot of uncertainty they suffered through," Zadick said. "I understand one of the council members made some comments towards the employees last night to maybe try to heal things and that was nice. There have been times when the employees feel like what is going to happen to us, these are our jobs, our careers, our livelihood for our families. It has been very stressful."
Zadick says that although it may seem like “the train has left the station,” he’s hoping the Mountain Water Company employee issues with can be resolved with the city of Missoula within the next 60 days.