Curry County has submitted its “final offer” to SEIU-member employees, saying they can take a one-time “signing bonus” of $1,000 if they will keep the existing labor contract intact until next year, County Administrator Clark Schroeder said Tuesday.

The union is slated to vote today (Aug. 8) on whether to strike Aug. 15, and the county commissioners will meet in executive session today at 1 p.m. for further negotiations.

Typically, Schroeder said, there are three legs to union negotiations, including cost of living adjustments (COLA), health care and wages. The union demands were to take effect July 1 of this year. Negotiations have been going on since this spring.

The county has been in financial straits for years, and has spun off entire departments to nonprofit organizations — public health to Curry Community Health, animal control to Wild Rivers Animal Rescue, among them — cut expenses, left positions vacant, delayed needed purchases and other money-saving measures.

It has also tried to convince residents to approve property tax increases — all efforts were defeated resoundingly.

The union, which represents all employees except the sheriff, elected officials and department heads, said it wants salary rates for all union employees to be increased by 3 percent, state documents show. That would represent a $37,416 increase to the county.

Under another section, it wants every employee eligible for a “step” increase — a pay increase going to the next step in the salary range — to receive two half-steps instead. That would cost an estimated $31,176, the website reads.

It also wants the county to contribute $1,200 a month — an increase of $100 — to employees for health insurance premiums, for a cost of $38,520, the document reads.

The three demands total $107,112.

The county countered to all, saying “no increases” would be given, the website reads. The $1,000 bonus offer, Schroeder said, had yet to be uploaded to the website.

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