KEZI 9: Eugene Workers Union Hosts 'Bargaining Solidarity Rally'

Reprinted from Kezi 9 News

The contract bargaining began in March and stalled in September. The process will now go to a third-party mediator to facilitate the discussions.

EUGENE, Ore. -- Dozens of members of Oregon AFSCME Council 75 gathered on Monday for a "Bargaining Solidarity Rally" to demonstrate their frustration with the City of Eugene's latest contract negotiations.

The contract bargaining initially began in March, however, it stalled in September. As a result, the process will now go to a third-party mediator to help facilitate the discussions.

About 260 Eugene employees belong to AFSCME Council 75, including janitors, some library workers, and those who maintain the wastewater system.

According to Monica Bielski Boris, a union representative, the disconnect in bargaining is due to multiple reasons, but the focus is on wage increase, the process for layoffs, and a proposed cut in hours. In short, they feel as though they aren't getting the appropriate compensation for their work.

Most of the people in attendance held signs that expressed their anger. One of the signs read: "More than praise, we need a raise!"

Dal Ollek, AFSCME Council 75 president, said they believe the offer the city has brought to the table so far is unreasonable, and the frustration was evident at the rally. "They're tired of being left out and falling behind and we're experiencing the same thing and we're seeing an awful lot of people in the community connect with us on that," Ollek said. 

The City of Eugene, they released this statement:

"We're focused on ensuring that we are able to adequately and fairly compensate our employees and also fulfill our commitments to our community and do that within the resources that are available to us within our budget processes." 

The event went on for about two hours, with members and non-members of the union in attendance. 

The date for the start of the mediated negotiations is Nov. 15.