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Nearly 700 Lane County employees on strike

Lane County employees on strike, October 18, 2017. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. – Nearly 700 Lane County employees went on strike Wednesday morning, and it doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon.

Around 5 a.m., the Union Local 2831 issued a statement saying, while their bargaining team continues to talk with Lane County, they're going forward with the strike.

Negotiations took place throughout the night and the employees went on strike after negotiations failed.

RELATED | How does the strike impact Lane County? Check for reduced hours, limits on services

The strike is a result of a failed contact negotiation between the union AFSCME, which represents Oregon city, county or special district employees, and Lane County.

Lane County officials said they offered the union an enhanced offer, but the AFSCME says after they continued bargaining on that offer, the county ended negotiations for now.

Lane County said they'll continue negotiations on Friday. Meanwhile, they say they're shifting their focus to provide morning services.

In the meantime, the union continues to strike.

The two sides have been talking since March about a new three-year contract.

Health care and better pay have been the top issues.

The Lane County commissioners approved an implementation Tuesday that would give the union a temporary contract while working toward a permanent one.

But the union still has to accept it.

Statement from AFSCME Wednesday at 4:48 a.m.:

In an effort to reach a deal, the AFSCME bargaining teams made major movement towards the County’s offer. However, the parties have not been able to reach a deal. Therefore, at 6 A.M. this morning, AFSCME represented members of Local 2831’s General and Nurses units will begin an open-ended strike. Despite that the AFSCME’s bargaining teams have agreed to stay at the table and continue negotiations.
AFSCME’s bargaining teams spent over 30 hours in mediation over the past two days and half days. Each day making major movement towards the county’s position. The movement was despite the Commissioners implementing their contract offer.
“We are disappointed in the county, our team made every good faith effort, and took every creative idea to reach an agreement. The responsibility for this strike, is now on the County. The commissioners and Steve own this.” LaRece Rivera, Local 2831 President.
Workers will be picketing at worksites across the County, with the primary pickets taking place at the Public Service Building and the Charnelton clinic. The bargaining teams hope to continue negotiations and settle the contract before the end of the day but workers are prepared to stay out as long as necessary.
AFSCME will hold a press conference at 8 A.M. at the Eugene office, at 688 Charnelton st.


Statement from Lane County Wednesday at 6:22 a.m.:

After all night mediation, Lane County remains committed to reaching an agreement with AFSCME leaders
Lane County negotiated with AFSCME leaders through the night on October 17 and into Wednesday morning.
The County provided an enhanced offer to AFSCME leaders at 10:00 p.m. on October 17 and as of 6:00 a.m. this morning had not received a response to that enhanced offer.
Lane County remains committed to continuing to negotiations with AFSCME toward a contract agreement that balances providing competitive wages and benefits to employees with its responsibility to be good stewards of limited taxpayer resources.
For information regarding what services will be impacted during the strike, please visit www.lanecounty.org. There is a community hotline open at 541-682-3977 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday¬-Friday, to answer service-related questions for the duration of the strike.

What's at stake if the 700 county workers go on strike?

Four of its six clinics in Eugene and Springfield will be shut down and the two remaining health clinics left open won't have any nurses.

That means even though we are heading into flu season, the county says they won't be able to provide flu shots at their clinics.

Lane County Public Health says they will not be able to provide immunizations, STD or HIV testing during the strike. Several other health-related services will also be suspended, and the county will have to manage their services with nearly 700 fewer employees.

Other services including land and waste management will also be affected.

In the wake of a possible strike, Lane County is shifting focus to community outreach. The county has a new hotline number on their website, as well as information explaining the changes during the strike.

This story will be updated as news develops.

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