New contract will make employees pay 10 percent of health insurance.

by: TIMES PHOTO: GEOFF PURSINGER - Tigard city workers held a rally outside city hall in September to protest stalled contract negotiations. The city's employee union has been working without a contract since July, but reached an agreement this week.The city of Tigard and its employee union have reached an agreement, after entering mediation earlier this year.

Members of Service Employees International Union Local 503/Oregon Public Employees Union Local 199 have been working without a contract for months, as the two sides have fought over health insurance premiums.

The city asked union members to pay for 10 percent of the cost of their health insurance and to make up the difference if the cost of healthcare should rise more than 5 percent. Union members balked, instead asking that employees pay 5 percent of their health insurance, saying that a 10 percent cost was too much to bear for a workforce that has been slashed by pay cuts, and had its hours reduced.

Employees held rallies outside City Hall and the Tigard Public Library as negotiations went on, to protest what they saw as months of stagnation on the part of the city. The two sides went into mediation in August.

The new three-year contract will give city officials most of what they asked for.

City employees will pay 10 percent of their health insurance, and a five percent annual cap will be placed on increases to the city’s health insurance contribution.

But the city also agreed to modest subsidies to employee premiums for the first two years. In the third year, the subsidy is will remain for employees making less than $3,200 per month.

Employees will also receive a 2.1 percent cost of living adjustment, retroactive to Sept. 1.

According to City Manager Marty Wine, a committee comprised of employees and city management will evaluate health plan options to help control future costs.

The union represents 107 workers in a variety of jobs, including in the Tigard Public Library, the Public Works department and bill collection.

The contract has been ratified by union members. The City Council is expected to adopt the contract in November.

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