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More Than 150 Lane County Workers Return To Jobs As Strike Nears Second Week

Brian Bull

As of today, about 150 Lane County workers have left the picket lines to return to their jobs.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, AFSCME leaders hope to see many of them back on strike soon.  

Outside Lane County Health and Human Services, a dozen striking workers wave signs and cheer honks of support from drivers.

LaRece Rivera is President of AFSCME Local 2381. It’s one of two bargaining units on strike.  Five others in the county have reached agreements with the county. Rivera says nearly half of those employees back at work are on a probationary basis, meaning they are still within their first six months of employment with Lane County…and could potentially be fired at-will. But she says there is a union fund available.

“Members didn’t necessarily understand that hardship funds were available for those that continue to say on the strike line," she tells KLCC.  "So far we’ve received funds from Oregon AFSCME, and several other AFSCME locals.  I believe we’re at about $150,000 right now.” 

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken.

Rivera adds she thinks they’re close to reaching a deal with the County.  Officials say nothing’s likely to be announced until they’ve had time to vet the latest counter-offer from the union.  

“Hopefully that’s – at the end of the day – if there’s a resolution, it’ll be very close in line to where the other five bargaining units are,”  Lane County Commissioner Leiken told reporters today. 

When asked if striking workers could lose their insurance coverage if a deal’s not reached by November 1st, a county spokeswoman says at that point, those employees can buy COBRA plans.

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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