Montgomery County Children Services workers on strike

Montgomery County Children Services workers’ strike began at 12:01 a.m. today.

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Those on the picket line belong to the Professionals Guild of Ohio, which represents 272 Children Services employees who on July 8 filed a 10-day notice of an intent to strike.

The county and guild could not reach an agreement during a Thursday mediation session, said Jane Hay, president of the local PGO union council.

“Wages, it’s simply wages,” Hay said about why some case workers will picket. “We just want a fair wage.”

Their contract includes a “re-opener” clause that allowed negotiations for the third and final year of the contract, from April 2019 to March 2020.

“I want to see the newer workers get decent wages so that they’ll stay,” Eric Kanthak, a caseworker and PGO chief steward, said.

Neither side could talk abut the specifics of what offers have been made.

“I can say that we’ve engaged in multiple rounds of negotiations and the county has continued to offer more generous offers,” Brianna Wooten, Montgomery County communications director said.

Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert said about 70 non-union employees will cover essential services during a strike. Children Services serves about 2,000 children.

“Please rest assured, our operations will remain open and we will continue to provide high-quality services during a strike,” Colbert said, referencing a “comprehensive contingency plan” to serve children and families.

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However, union members expressed concerns about how the county could effectively do that and meet the state’s standards.

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“If you are talking about your monthly home visits, following up on safety plans, I don’t know how they’re going to do that,” Hay said.

Carol Segar, who has friends who work for Children Services, said caseworkers should be paid more.

“They think it’s unfair. They have a high-stress job. I can’t even imagine dealing with what they deal with on a daily basis,” she said.

Those on strike said they plan to be out picketing throughout the weekend and next week, for as long as necessary.

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