The federal government handed out a pay freeze. Plenty of Montanans have taken pay cuts or are just plain out of work. And the State of Montana is heading towards a pay increase for state workers in 2012. As you can imagine, plenty are unhappy with it.

HELENA — Members of Montana's three state employee unions said Tuesday that they have approved a plan proposed by union negotiators and the Schweitzer administration that would give state employees their first pay raise in two years.

The plan, which calls for a 1 percent increase in base pay effective in January 2012 and a 3 percent raise in January 2013, must be approved by the Republican-controlled legislature.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer's budget office has said the pay increase would cost the state about $22 million over the next two-year budget period.