Oregon reaches contract agreement with AFSCME

SALEM, Ore. (AP) The state of Oregon reached a contract agreement Friday with 3,000 workers from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The two-year agreement, which is still subject to approval by rank-and-file members, would include raises for inflation and experience, and it would continue the existing cost-sharing arrangement for health insurance.

It covers workers from 20 state agencies. Bargaining continues for 3,000 prison workers represented by AFSCME.

The deal is similar to one reached a day earlier with the state's largest employee group, the Service Employees International Union. It would not include mandatory unpaid days off, known as furloughs, and would restore wage raises tied to experience, known as step increases.

Workers would get a 1.5 percent inflation increase effective Dec. 1 and another 2 percent raise a year later. The state would continue picking up workers' 6 percent retirement contribution to the Public Employees Retirement System.

"It's the best contract in six years," said Oregon AFSCME Executive Director Ken Allen. "It's a good settlement, and it's a reflection of the fact that the state's starting to come out the recession."

Health insurance was a key sticking point. Under the contract, workers would continue paying 5 percent of their health care premiums.

Beginning in 2015, workers who cost the lowest-cost health plan would pay 3 percent of the premium. That provision would only take effect, however, if at least 95 percent of workers have more than one insurance option. Some workers in rural areas don't have access to the lower-cost plans.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.