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News / Business

Labor union authorizes state workers strike

The Columbian
Published: July 13, 2013, 5:00pm

PORTLAND — A labor union representing 19,000 state workers has voted to authorize a strike.

Union officials would not provide the exact vote count, but the vote empowers the bargaining team for Service Employees International Union Local 503 to enact a strike if it sees fit.

The prior contract with the state expired June 30. The state has extended its provisions twice, as negotiators tried to reach an agreement.

The state has offered a package that includes a small cost of living increase, and a promise of no furloughs.

Union officials say their members have had no raise for the past five years, and they hope to negotiate a fair settlement that will prevent members’ wages from being left behind as the economy improves.

Bargaining sessions are scheduled for today and Wednesday.