More Than 150 Lane County Workers Return To Jobs As Strike Nears Second Week

Oct 23, 2017

As of today, about 150 Lane County workers have left the picket lines to return to their jobs.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, AFSCME leaders hope to see many of them back on strike soon.  

AFSCME members picket outside Lane County Health and Human Services today.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Outside Lane County Health and Human Services, a dozen striking workers wave signs and cheer honks of support from drivers.

LaRece Rivera is President of AFSCME Local 2381. It’s one of two bargaining units on strike.  Five others in the county have reached agreements with the county. Rivera says nearly half of those employees back at work are on a probationary basis, meaning they are still within their first six months of employment with Lane County…and could potentially be fired at-will. But she says there is a union fund available.

“Members didn’t necessarily understand that hardship funds were available for those that continue to say on the strike line," she tells KLCC.  "So far we’ve received funds from Oregon AFSCME, and several other AFSCME locals.  I believe we’re at about $150,000 right now.” 

Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Rivera adds she thinks they’re close to reaching a deal with the County.  Officials say nothing’s likely to be announced until they’ve had time to vet the latest counter-offer from the union.  

“Hopefully that’s – at the end of the day – if there’s a resolution, it’ll be very close in line to where the other five bargaining units are,”  Lane County Commissioner Leiken told reporters today. 

When asked if striking workers could lose their insurance coverage if a deal’s not reached by November 1st, a county spokeswoman says at that point, those employees can buy COBRA plans.

Copyright 2017, KLCC.