Oregon Public Broadcasting

A labor union representing 19,000 state workers has voted to authorize a strike.

Union officials would not provide the exact vote count, but the vote empowers the bargaining team for SEIU Local 503 to enact a strike if they see fit.

The prior contract with the state expired June 30. The state has extended its provisions twice, as negotiators tried to reach an agreement.

The state has offered package that includes a small cost of living increase, and a promise of no furloughs.

Union officials say their members have hadno raise for the past five years, and they hope to negotiate a fair settlement that will prevent members wages from being left behind as the economy improves.

Bargaining sessions are scheduled for Monday and Wednesday.

The last time SEIU members went on strike was 1995. The stoppage lasted a week.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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