Oregon state workers approve contract

Aug 25, 2011

Members of Oregon’s largest public workers' union have approved a new two-year contract. It's the first time state workers have agreed to pay a portion of their health insurance premiums.

Members of SEIU Local 503 voted to ratify the contract 77% to 23%. The agreement means that many state workers will pay around 5% of the cost of their health insurance premiums. Employees will also have to take unpaid furlough days. They'll also get cost of living pay increases.

In a statement, union officials said it was not a contract that any of them were thrilled with. But union leaders defended it as the best they could get, given the current economic environment. Some union members vocally opposed the agreement, even mounting a "Vote No" campaign.

The agreement covers about 19,000 state workers. Separately, about 4,000 state university employees are at an impasse with higher ed negotiators, and could authorize a strike next month.