Yamhill County Employee Association, AFSCME Local 1422 members commenced a strike on Friday morning following unsuccessful mediation between Yamhill County officials and the union. The final mediation session held on Thursday failed to reach an agreement, leading to the workforce’s decision to picket outside the Yamhill County courthouse.

The union commenced contract negotiations with the county in March for a new three-year agreement. Their prior contract lapsed on June 30, prompting mediation efforts in August. High on the union’s list of demands was increased wages, attributed to general inflation and the rising cost of living within Yamhill County.

Union President Michelle Mendoza highlighted the financial challenges faced by workers, emphasizing difficulties in meeting rent and other financial obligations due to constrained incomes. The union’s final proposal, requesting a 15% wage increase spread over three years, was declined by the county. Instead, the county offered two alternative proposals, presenting wage increments ranging from 10% to 14%. Additionally, the union sought improved holiday pay and a more efficient grievance resolution process.

Yamhill County Officials, declining an interview with KGW, conveyed their disappointment via email. County Administrator Ken Huffer expressed regret at the inability to secure an agreement, citing the county’s efforts in proposing viable terms to avert the strike. However, the union rejected the county’s proposals.

The strike’s potential impact spans various county services, including health department provisions, public works, and mental health services, as stated by the union. In response, Huffer affirmed the county’s commitment to maintaining critical services during the strike.

An anonymous county services client informed KGW that her grief counseling had already been canceled due to the strike. She criticized the potential consequences, especially amid an existing mental health crisis within Yamhill County, attributing the service disruptions to the commissioners’ failure to meet the wage agreement sought by the workforce.

The next mediation session is set for November 7, with the possibility for either party to propose earlier meetings.