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Mountain Water employees reject Missoula job offer, want mayor to abandon condemnation effort

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MISSOULA, Montana — Employees of the water company that serves Missoula residents are urging the mayor and city council to end their efforts to force the sale of Mountain Water to the city.

"The city has not presented a valid case or argument for taking Mountain Water assets through condemnation, nor in any way proved that condemnation is in the best interest of Missoula customers," said the letter, dated Monday and signed by 37 employees.

The workers also rejected the city's proposed work stipulation agreement in which the city said it would match or exceed the employees' wages as of the date case was filed in April. The guaranteed job offer did not extend to top managers.

"We do not appreciate the attempt to single out members of our employee group, nor do we appreciate your disregard for the fact that we are an organized group of employees being represented by a single entity," the employee letter to Mayor John Engen and the city council members.

Workers had to sign the agreement by Monday to guarantee their employment if the city was successful in its eminent domain case. A trial is scheduled to start in March 2015.

Carlyle Infrastructure Partners, which owns Mountain Water Co., has announced plans to sell it to a Canadian company, Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. Mountain Water employees say Algonquin subsidiary, Liberty Utilities, has assured them that it will keep all employees and has supplied them with its employment and operating plans.

"On a personal note, this taking and the tactics deployed by your attorneys are causing our families and us a great deal of stress and cost, just as they are the community, itself," the letter said.

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