Largest State Workers’ Strike Ends
SALEM, Ore. (AP) _ Oregon’s first major state workers’ strike is over, but union officials are promising more tough bargaining in the future.
″The days of ‘take it or leave it’ collective begging are over,″ Alice Dale, executive director of the Oregon Public Employees Union, told cheering workers Thursday moments after a tentative two-year contract agreement was reached.
The union, the largest for state workers, called the strike nine days ago.
The agreement is subject to approval by the union’s 13,000 members. Union spokesman Bentley Gilbert said the process could take up to two weeks. Only union members will be able to vote.
In a prepared statement, Gov. Neil Goldschmidt called the agreement ″both fair and equitable to the citizens of Oregon and to our employees.″
″Collective bargaining is always difficult, and perhaps it is more difficult with your friends,″ he said.
Announcement of the tentative pact came more than 15 hours after the final bargaining session began.
As word of the settlement spread, hundreds of striking state workers gathered in a park in front of the Capitol, then marched chanting and cheering through the building’s rotunda.
″Hooray for our side,″ said Mary Ruth Wooding, a custodian at Southern Oregon State College and district director for the strike. ″I’ll be happy to be cleaning toilets instead of picketing.″
They walked several blocks through downtown Salem and ended up at the union strike headquarters, where they held a rally.
The tentative settlement provides raises of 2 percent retroactive to July and 4 percent in January 1989.
The state’s last offer had been for 3 percent raises in January 1988 and again in January 1989. The union had demanded raises of 4 percent retroactive to July and another 4 1/2 percent in July 1988.
The benefit package includes assurance that employees will not have any out-of-pocket costs for health insurance, Ms. Dale said.
Miller said agencies would have to absorb the added costs for the package if it is ratified by the union. The state will not have to seek emergency money to pay for the settlement, he said.
″We’re very pleased to have an agreement and that the strike is settled,″ he said.