County, employees reach deal
The strike between Lane County and its largest employee union appears to be over.
The county sent out a news release shortly before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday announcing that the county had reached a tentative agreement with the 692-member local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
A news release prepared by Lane County public information officer Devon Ashbridge indicated that the employees would return to work Wednesday.
The agreement ends a strike that had entered its second week after eight months of negotiations and allows county services to return to normal.
“We are pleased an agreement has been reached that demonstrates respect for our workers and our community,” Lane County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky said. “We look forward to welcoming our coworkers back and continuing to provide high-quality services that improve the health, safety and vitality of our community.”
The release stated that the tentative contract agreements must be ratified by a vote of AFSCME members, followed by a vote of the Lane County Board of Commissioners, before they can take effect.
Provisions of the tentative, three-year agreements for the AFSCME general unit workers and the AFSCME nurses unit employees include, as quoted from the release:
A memorandum of understanding that creates a process to conduct market reviews and potential recommendations for market adjustments between active negotiation years.
A memorandum of understanding that expands a joint Lane County and AFSCME labor management committee to review the use of part-time positions in both AFSCME units.
A memorandum of understanding for a one-time payment of $100,000 to be distributed by AFSCME among employees to help defray employee costs.
The agreements also include the terms of the implementation contract authorized by the Lane County Board of Commissioners on Oct. 17:
A 2 percent cost of living adjustment each year for three years for all members.
Market adjustments for 63 percent of AFSCME members.
And, for the first time, AFSCME members will begin contributing a maximum of $50 per month pretax toward family health insurance coverage after a $20 monthly credit for participating in a free, annual health screening; and dental hygienists currently in temporary positions will move to part-time status.
This change means they no longer will need to reapply for their positions each year and will be eligible for employee-only health insurance. Health insurance premium payments will begin on July 1, 2018.
The union had proposed far higher raises than the county had offered, 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 offer submitted to the state last month as talks hit an impasse. The union also had resisted the proposal that employees start contributing to health plans, saying the payments would result in a net pay decrease for workers in lower-paying jobs.
On Monday, AFSCME officials released updated contract terms that they said the union had shared with the county on Sunday night. Under those terms, AFSCME-represented workers would start contributing toward their health insurance premiums starting July 1, instead of the county’s offer of Jan. 1.
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