By MALLORY GRUBEN
Dentists working for Multnomah County are prepared to strike if negotiations for a second union contract lock up. AFSCME Local 88 represents 20 dentists at seven county clinics. Earlier this month, they overwhelmingly authorized a strike. Under the state law that covers public employees, the dentists can’t walk out until after they declare impasse in negotiations. At that point, they enter a 30-day cooling off period, after which they could strike with 10 days notice.
As of press time, neither side had declared an impasse.
Dentists say the county is proposing to increase how many patients they see each day by up to 20%. That’s after the county already increased their patient count to 22 in a 10-hour shift, up from 18. The dentists say seeing more patients per day will lower the quality of care they can offer to Medicaid enrollees and uninsured or homeless patients who have few other options for care.