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Oregon Members Demand Quality Services for the Community

Photos courtesy Oregon AFSCME
Oregon Members Demand Quality Services for the Community
By Justin Lee ·

(Editor’s Note: AFSCME-represented public service workers in Lane County, Oregon, have reached a tentative agreement with their employer and are deciding whether to ratify it).

Nearly 700 Lane County, Oregon, employees went on strike Wednesday after county officials refused to address ongoing issues that prevent public service employees from adequately serving the community’s most vulnerable residents.

Seventy percent of AFSCME members in Lane County are women who provide residents with essential services such as immunizations, dental checkups and health screenings. However, because they are paid 15 percent to 30 percent below market, some public service workers rely on federal assistance and second jobs to make ends meet, making it tough to continue their public service careers.

Many employees like Emily Miller, a 10-year dental hygienist in the Children’s Prevention Program, are not offered health insurance through the county and do not qualify even for flu shots. As a temporary employee, Miller must also re-apply for her job every year.

“I voted to strike with the nurses’ unit because I should have a permanent position that provides me with health insurance,” she said. “We are fighting for our basic rights to provide health care to members of our community, and to have health care for ourselves.”

Jenny Guyan, an administrative assistant with the county Department of Health and Human Services, said she voted to strike because Lane County employees are paid so poorly.

“I've worked with the county since 2009, and out of five of those eight years, I have qualified for public assistance for myself and my two children,” she said.

Act Now

You can help AFSCME members in Oregon by calling the Lane County Board of Commissioners at 541-682-4203. Tell them to settle a fair contract today.

While county employees are asked to do more with less, county officials are getting raises.

County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky (a former aide to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker) has received a 16.4 percent pay increase since he was hired in 2014, and Lane County commissioners gave themselves a 13.7 percent pay increase last year, according to the Register-Guard of Eugene, Oregon.

The Register-Guard also highlighted Mokrohisky’s benefit package of $36,500 a year. That package alone is worth an average county employee’s annual salary.

AFSCME members in Lane County are urging Mokrohisky and the county commission to do more for their community by stepping up investment in public services and respecting the workers who devote their lives to serving county residents.

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