A state board is backing the 2011 Montana Legislature in a union complaint that it engaged in unfair labor practice by spurning a negotiated pay deal.
The Board of Personnel Appeals voted Thursday to accept the earlier findings of a hearings officer in rejecting the state employee union complaint.
The board agreed that the labor deal negotiated between the governor's office and state employee unions held a specific provision that the deal was contingent upon legislative approval.
The pay plan included a 4 percent pay hike over two years. The Republican-led Legislature rejected the plan and instead imposed a pay freeze.
A union representative says a decision will come later on whether to appeal to the courts. The unions want an order forcing future legislatures to fairly bargain.