Strike at Lane County

(Photo by Ross Grami, courtesy of Oregon AFSCME)

Lane County employees represented by AFSCME Local 2831 went on strike for a week before reaching agreement on a new three-year contract. The bargaining unit totaled 692 workers, including 80 nurses and 110 probationary and temporary workers. They walked off the job Wednesday, Oct. 18 and returned to work Wednesday, Oct. 25. The strike caused county health clinics and dumps to close. Strikers picketed at nine locations.

Workers struck chiefly over county proposals on pay and health care, said Oregon AFSCME spokesperson Ross Grami. A county pay study showed that members were making on average 15 percent below their peers at comparable public employers, Grami said, but Lane County rejected a union proposal to raise wages 14.8 percent. And the county’s health insurance proposal required employees to contribute for the first time toward the health insurance premium —̦$20 to $70 a month, plus increased copays and deductibles.

In the settlement, which was ratified Oct. 27, members agreed in the end to the county health insurance proposal, though the county agreed to delay the start date for health insurance payments to July 1.

The contract also provides a 3 percent raise in the first year, and 2 percent in second and third years. A joint labor-management committee will review wages of some employees mid-way through the contract.

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