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'I will end up losing and make less money doing the same job'

Lane County employees represented by AFSCME returned to the picket lines Thursday after going on strike Wednesday morning. The county and union return to the negotiating table on Friday. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - Two years on the job at Lane County, a picket line is the last place Jody Emert thought she would be.

But the services coordinator at the county's developmental disabilities office says she wants her voice to be heard.

"These increased costs are honestly devastating to me," she said of the county's proposed contract.

Emert and fellow AFSCME union members argue that the county is not offering high enough pay increases to cover new monthly health insurance payments and higher co-pays.

"I will end up losing and make less money doing the same job than what I'm making currently," Emert said.

The county wants union employees to start paying $20 to $70 per month toward health coverage.

County managers dispute the claim that any of the AFSCME employees would go backwards in take-home pay. Officials say a developmental disabilities specialist at the lowest pay grade would get a raise the first year of about $2,800, more than covering the monthly contribution fees for insurance.

Doctor visit co-pays would rise from $25 to $35.

The negotiating teams for the county and union are scheduled to resume discussions Friday.

"Come to an agreement," Emert said. "We deserve a fair contract. We're not going to back down, and we'll be out here until we get it."

MORE: Background on the strike | County adjusts services during strike

RELATED | County Press Conference Thursday, October 19

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