DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – In court Monday afternoon, Montgomery County officials and the union representing roughly 270 Children Services workers were directed to continue negotiating for 60 days.
In the meantime, those workers are not permitted to strike because the state says the potential damage to children and families would be too great.
“What this matter is coming down to is one thing and one thing alone and that’s money,” said Judge Richard Skelton. “We hereby find the strike by the employees represented by PGO constitutes a clear and present danger.”
He boiled down the disagreement Monday in a court hearing between the Children Services union and Montgomery County.
The State Employment Relations Board issued a determination Sunday night. The union representing the employees is spinning it as a victory, saying the state acknowledges they play a critical role.
Judge Skelton says the two sides now have 60 days to keep negotiating.
During the court hearing they set three meetings: July 31, August 28 and September 6.
“The parties will have during that time period to resume whatever negotiations or collective bargaining that they have to do,” he said.
In the meantime, the union is encouraging the employees to report to work.
“It’s not going to be a formal situation. It’s going to be the court’s efforts to see how this process is progressing or not,” Judge Skelton says.
Brianna Wooten, Director of Communications for Montgomery County, said, “While we had a contingency plan in place, it’s always best to have children served by the caseworkers assigned to their case who knows them best.”
In a statement, PGO President Jane Hay said, “The workers and union of Montgomery County Children Services are devastated that SERB and the courts would put its thumb on the scales to unfairly disadvantage the workers and their union to get a fair wage increase.”
The county is offering a 3-percent pay increase.
The union has rejected that offer, citing another union that negotiated a 6-percent pay raise for its workers. That union represents more than 800 employees in Montgomery County.
“It’s important to note our caseworkers are the highest paid in the region. That includes metro and rural counties. Again, we have no problem setting a reasonable and fair compensation package for our union members because we value the work they do,” Wooten stated.
The two sides are also at odds over where informational picketers can set up.
The union says picketing will happen, it’s just a matter of where.