With Lane County workers authorized to strike next week, negotiations continue over a contract dispute between officials and unions. As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, both sides say they want to avoid a strike.
The two AFSCME unions involved in the dispute could strike beginning October 18th. AFSCME representative Jim Steiner says they want pay increases of roughly 15 and 20 percent for municipal workers and nurses, respectively…much higher than the 3 percent Lane County has proposed.
“We have got to make sure that folks are not going backwards in their wages and that they’re not end up paying more and more for health insurance when they’re going backwards," Steiner tells KLCC.
County officials say other unions have agreed to the terms, which includes workers paying $20 to $70 a month towards health insurance premiums. Currently they pay nothing. Lane County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky says there’s a balance to maintain.
“We respect and value our employees, they provide incredible services to the community. We want to be able to compensate our employees as well as we can, to recruit and retain the best talent. We also have to responsibly manage taxpayer resources.”
Another mediation session is set for Thursday. If a strike is held, nearly 700 Lane County workers will be involved.
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