February 2, 2007 Volume 108 Number 3

AFSCME rallies for new contract at Clackamas County

About 100 people turned out in Oregon City for a noontime rally Jan. 23 in support of members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 350 locked in difficult contract talks with their employer — Clackamas County.

The union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint for unilaterally implementing a new payroll schedule in the midst of the current contract negotiations. Local 350 represents about 350 county employees in the 911 center, transportation, development, water and environmental services departments. The 911 employees are not allowed to strike and work under a separate contract.

The county employees have been working without a contract since June 30, 2006. Bargaining on a new agreement began May 11, but disagreements over health insurance premiums have bogged down talks.

According to union spokesman Don Loving, Clackamas County wants a 95-5 split on the cost of employee health insurance. “The county is insisting on a cap on its contribution, meaning Local 350 members would likely see their percentage rise considerably above 5 percent next year,” he said.

In mid-December a mediator was called in, but after three sessions there has been little movement. The Jan. 23 rally coincided with the third round of mediated talks. The next mediated session is scheduled for Feb. 15.

Local 350 President Rob Hungerford says his colleagues deserve respect. “We are the employees who make this county run,” he said. “Managers are in line to get big bonuses, but they can’t find money for our wages and health insurance costs.”

AFSCME Oregon Council 75 Executive Director Ken Allen told rallygoers, “Clackamas County needs to understand who they’re picking a fight with. They’re not just going up against Local 350. They’re about to get on the wrong side of a large, statewide union that has over $600,000 in its strike fund. They need to come to the table and settle, because we won’t be scared away.”

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