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Labor Groups Gather To Highlight Impasse In Contract Talks

Brian Bull

Labor unions and their supporters gathered in Eugene today to protest the lack of a contract between Lane County workers and management. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

“Are we here to support Lane County workers?” asks Phil Carrasco, of the Oregon AFLCIO.

"YEAH!" ralliers respond.  

Roughly a hundred people gathered in the Wayne Morse Free Speech plaza.  Organizers say negotiations have gone on for nine months, with little to show for it.

Jim Steiner is Council 75 Representative.  Fresh from mediation, he explains what the union sees as the sticking point.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Union members at today's rally in Eugene.

“The county wants folks to start paying for a portion of their health insurance, without really giving them significant enough money or increases in their wages to cover that," Steiner tells KLCC.  

"So in the end, our folks take less money home at the end of the month than they’re making now.” 

Meanwhile, a Lane County spokeswoman contests that characterization.  She says their proposal offers a two percent cost of living increase each year for three years, and a change that’ll have workers join nearly 500 other represented employees who’ve agreed to contribute up to $70 a month.  She adds the county is proposing a one-time payment to offset the health insurance contribution costs until the other proposed increases take effect.

Copyright 2017, KLCC. 

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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