BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock gave his support to a group of 35 unionized employees of the talc-milling plant in Three Forks who have been locked out of their jobs for a week.

The Montana Standard reports the Democratic governor told the workers to "stand strong" during his visit Thursday, acknowledging he is unable to intervene in the dispute between Imerys America and the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.

The lockout started last week when contract negotiations broke down. Bullock says he hopes the parties will return to the table to negotiate again in "good faith."

A company spokesperson said in a statement that the "final fair and reasonable offer to the Boilermakers — reached after nearly 3 months of negotiations — remains on the table."

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