By Ron VandenBoom
Its an unlikely pairing, but Tom Huddleston, representing the Montana AFL/CIO, told members of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce that its a new dawn in relations between organized labor and Montanas Chambers of Commerce and its called Montana Partnership.
Huddleston made the comment during a Montana Business Agenda meeting sponsored by the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday.
So, its a new dawn, Huddleston told the crowd. What were hoping is that finding a better way will be a new way for the millennium.
The joining together of the two organizations was made possible by a $96,946 grant awarded by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service through the Federal Labor-Management Cooperation Act of 1978.
Only 13 applicants nationwide were selected for funding by the agency and similar organizations throughout the nation are watching to see how the relationship will work, Huddleston said.
Huddleston said he recognized that disagreements over the last 100 years have kept the two organizations apart, but suggested the time had come to roll up our sleeves and work together.
The goal, according to Chris Gallus, director of Government Relations and Legal Counsel for the Montana Chamber, is to come together recognizing global changes in terms of economic development and community development.
Gallus said Montana needs to grow, create more jobs, and become more competitive with other states if we are not to be last on the list for jobs and wages.
There is really an opportunity to agree on some things, and frankly, not let our disagreements get in the way, Gallus said.
Gallus admitted he recognized some disagreements will continue to exist, but we can come together and get some things done and well all be better off in the global marketplace.
Huddleston described a need for more awareness and more respect for each others differences by acknowledging the differences and not so much living in the past.
We in the work force need to become partners with owners and investors and the success of their business, he said.
Huddleston, who said the union is now 42 percent Republican and 44 percent Democrat, hopes to walk in together when the Legislature convenes again in 2001 especially on issues concerning education and economic development.
Were ready to discuss, negotiate and agree, he said.
The Montana Chamber and the AFL/CIO are conducting a series of six conferences around the state to explain the new cooperative partnership and receive input from individuals and their communities.
The first meeting has been scheduled for Saturday, June 12, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Dawson Community College in Glendive.
There is no registration fee for the conference but lunch will cost $7.
This is the first partnership in the nation of this kind and national attention will be focused on the conference.
Call 265-4383 for registration information.