There’s been some heated debate recently about how to proceed on one of the city of Missoula’s largest construction projects: The Hotel Fox,to be located downtown on the riverfront triangle.

"Right now we're at loggerheads, as it were, on a few things including labor issues and also affordable housing," said Missoula Area Central Labor Council President Mark Anderlik. "It has to do with the developers signing an agreement essentially remaining neutral and a voluntary recognition of the union if the workers decide they want a union."

This would likely be the first neutrality agreement in Montana if it were drafted, the agreement would make the formation of employee unions at the new location much easier, and Anderlik says because public money was put into the project such an agreement should be signed to help benefit the public with higher paying jobs.

"The question remains on the the labor side: is this going to be a net-benefit to Missoula or is it going to be another bunch of low-wage jobs, which Missoula is already swimming in. We don't need any more of those  less-than-living-wage jobs in Missoula," Anderlik said.

Mayor John Engen attempted to reach some type of agreement between the developers and the Central Labor Council, but Anderlik says the Council was essentially cut out of the discussion and that Engen’s mediation proposal was technically illegal.

"The mayor's solution tried to amend federal law, which local governments cannot do," Anderlik said. "Second it didn't really do anything that we were looking for, and third, the main issue, is that it didn't protect the city's financial interest in the project."

Issues over labor agreements, apprenticeships and a whole lot more are expected in City Council Chambers again next Monday.