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Oregon Workers Turn Up the Heat

October 27, 2009

Local 350 members and supporters take it to the streets.
(Photo Credit: Don Loving)

“This contract won’t be settled at the table,” Rob Hungerford told more than 175 participants at a recent “Solidarity Lunch Break” rally to protest Clackamas County’s regressive bargaining proposals. “It’s going to be settled out here, at rallies and direct actions like this.”

Hungerford, vice president of Local 350 (Oregon Council 75), spoke on behalf of members who work in the county’s Water and Environment Services, Transportation and Development and County Communications departments.

The union, which has been without a contract since July 1, also announced at the rally that it is filing an unfair labor practice charge against the county for proposing to reduce its health insurance contribution and limiting future cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to 1 percent. “That sounds like unfair bargaining and it’s illegal,” said Andrea Hall, Local 350 chapter chair. “We agree on no COLA this year and we’re willing to discuss concessions on wages but health care is a big factor and the county is asking too much.”

According to union officials, the county wants to reduce the cap increase on its portion of insurance premiums from 9 percent to 5 percent this year and 6.5 percent in the following two years.

To protest the lack of progress in contract negotiations, the union staged a 15-minute “Solidarity Break” on Oct. 8 at the county’s offices in Oregon City. This was followed a week later with another rally, this time drawing members from the Clackamas County Employees Association – another union that is also negotiating an expired contract.

About the presence of other union members, Council 75 Exec. Dir. Ken Allen said that “the more we cooperate, the harder it is for the county to play one group against the other.”

“We will be back,” Hungerford declared at the conclusion of the rally. “And we will keep coming back until we agree on a contract.”

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