EUGENE, Ore.—More than 500 Lane County government workers went on strike Oct. 18, after the county threatened to impose contract terms on the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2831. The union represents about half the roughly 1,400 workers in the county of 360,000 people centered on the city of Eugene. The county, which has been in talks with Local 2381 for a new three-year contract since March, has offered raises averaging about 3% in the contract’s first year, with employees to start paying $20 to $70 per month for health insurance. The union wants raises of close to 15% for workers in the general unit and 20% for nurses, with no charge for health coverage. Workers say the strike, the first by county employees since 1979, might be a long one. “There’s a lot of resolve. People are fired up,” electrical engineer Bill Wilcox told the Eugene Register-Guard. “I really don’t have a good feeling about this ending quickly.” Local 2831 President LaRece Rivera said county negotiators had “walked from the table,” which a county spokesperson denied. If the strike lasts until Nov. 1, workers’ health insurance will be cut off.

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