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County contract talks continue

October 23, 2017

Lane County and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union met in all-day contract negotiations Sunday, but they did not announce an end to talks late Sunday night.

It was unclear Sunday night whether the sides would resume labor talks through a mediator Monday.

More than 500 Lane County government employees went on strike Wednesday, protesting the county’s three-year contract offer for AFSCME-represented workers.

The county’s proposal would give the employees roughly 3 percent average raises in the contract’s first year.

The union has proposed far higher raises than the county’s offer, averaging 14.8 percent for AFSCME general unit employees in the contract’s first year and 19.8 percent for the AFSCME nurses unit, based on the union’s last public offer submitted last month.

Union officials say they’ve since moved significantly closer to the county’s offer. An Oregon AFSCME spokesman said Friday that the gap between the union and county proposals had closed to about $2 million over the three-year deal. County officials said the two sides still were far apart.

The county and union have been negotiating since March on new contracts for the AFSCME general and nurses units, which represent nearly 700 Lane County government employees, almost half of the county’s total workforce.

The sides have been talking through a state mediator since direct talks broke down last month.

The county said 140 represented workers had returned to work as of Friday afternoon.

On its Facebook page, Oregon AFSCME said Lane County workers would continue picketing outside county offices Monday without an agreement.

“The hope is to get a deal, but if we are not able to do so, we will see everyone on the line Monday!” the announcement said.

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