WYSO

Montgomery County Children's Services Workers Strike Temporarily Halted By Court Order

Jul 19, 2019

Hundreds of Montgomery County Children’s Services workers walked off the job Friday morning after negotiations with the county failed. But before noon, members were abruptly forced to abandon the picket lines due to a court order has temporarily halting the strike.

The Professional Guild of Ohio (PGO) met with Montgomery County for a mediation Thursday, but the two parties were unable to come to deal. The dispute centers on wages.

Negotiations began in February. The PGO filed a 10-day strike notice earlier this month.

270 employees belong to the Montgomery County chapter of the PGO.  75% are child welfare caseworkers. Others are clerical or IT workers.

At 10 a.m. hundreds of union members wearing red shirts lined North Main Street outside the Haines Children Services Center, carrying signs demanding higher wages. Eric Kantack, a caseworker said he was skeptical the county would be able to keep the department running smoothly without them.

"There's no way they're going to do that in there, and there's no way they're going to bring able to bring in anybody that's going to replace the knowledge that these people are build up with their families. We do have cases sometimes open for months and sometimes even for years."

As union members picketed, a judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the strike from continuing for 72 hours.

In a statement, County Administrator Michael Colbert said they filed the injunction because union members had been instructed not to participate in court hearings, quote “which would be detrimental to providing vital and mandated services.” Union leadership denies this.

The news made its way to the picket lines around noon. Shortly afterward, Sheriff’s deputies broke up the picket lines. Union president Jane Hay says members will not return to work though. Instead, they’ll use vacation time to stay home.

The State Employment Relations Board is expected to rule on whether the strike can resume after the restraining order expires.