Strike Not an Option in Contract Talks for Parole, Probation Officers

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Byline: COUNTY BEAT By Matt Cooper The Register-Guard

To strike or not to strike? That's no longer the question for Lane County parole and probation officers.

The answer is no - parole and probation officers can't strike, because of a change made by the state Legislature last year, said Frank Forbes, the county's labor relations manager.

Lawmakers added parole and probation officers to the list of "strike-prohibited" employees, which includes sheriff's deputies and group workers in youth services. Those workers are forbidden from striking, which means contract disagreements are settled through arbitration.

Does that give leverage to county management in the upcoming contract talks with parole and probation officers? Not necessarily. Whatever the arbitrator says is final, which could go for or against either side, Forbes said.

Contract talks also are coming up for public works employees and engineers. The county will look for two- and three-year deals with all three groups, Forbes said.

In last year's talks with other county unions, workers generally sought insurance and pension benefits over salary increases, Forbes said. Will the groups up for contract renewals go the same route? "It's too early to tell," he said.

Lower and lower

The cost of cable TV just keeps falling for folks who live outside Florence and Dunes City.

Charter Communications had planned last week to ask the commissioners to approve a rate change to make the basic service $19.99 per month, down from $23.94. Instead, the rate will be $18.15 per month, Chris Hinzmann, Charter operations manager, said Thursday. …