The contracts for county social workers, maintenance workers, accountants, pharmacists, carpenters, librarians and office support staff, among others represented by AFSCME Local 829 and SEIU Local 715, expired Nov. 4 without an agreement, while negotiations have been ongoing since August, Sullivan said.
According to Bledsoe, union officials are particularly concerned with "the disparity between management and line workers'' in retirement health benefits.
"We're looking for a realistic dollar amount and to be able to keep up with inflation,'' Bledsoe said.
The county is offering an increase in retiree health benefits from $165 per month to $440 per month, while the union is asking for the $440 monthly contribution to increase by 5 percent each year, which Bledsoe says is still less than inflationary increases and dwarfed by current management health benefits.
"We think we're making a modest proposal compared to lavish management benefits,'' she said.
If county and union negotiators are able to bridge that gap, Bledsoe believes negotiations on salary differences will follow suit.