A two-hour negotiation session with a federal mediator failed to resolve a contract dispute between Madison County workers and administration officials on Tuesday.

Workers are scheduled to picket at 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Last week Madison County officials dropped a "two tier" pay plan offer, which AFSCME Local 799 president Scott Davis earlier said was a "deal breaker."

Negotiations are not scheduled to resume until 1 p.m. on Friday at a neutral location, said Davis.

Bailiffs have turned in their badges and keys to Madison County Chief Judge Edward Ferguson.

Ferguson has already cancelled all jury trials that were scheduled this week.

The county's proposal calls for a 3% salary increase in the contract's first year, followed by 2.5% increases for the remainder of the four-year contract.

In its latest offer, the county also made a proposal that called for a "signficant" contribution to union employee's dependent health insurance coverage.

County employees, who have worked without a contract for more than 10 months, objected to the county's two tier proposal which would have provided a different pay scale for newly hired employees.

"The county believes that it has negotiated in good faith, that it has offered their valued employees a fair contract proposal that is both fiscally attractive to them and responsive to their expressed health care needs and concerns," according to a press release issued by the county last week.

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