MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) – More than 250 Children Services workers are considering going on strike in Montgomery County. This comes after Professional Guild of Ohio union members were offered a lower pay raise than the majority of other county departments.
AFSCME union workers were given 6 percent wages across several departments.
For the last three months, Montgomery County and the Professionals Guild of Ohio have been working on a wage reopener.
The talks stalled as PGO didn’t see the same raise structure as AFSCME.
According to PGO, there was an agreement that essentially kept the same contract structure between the two unions.
“For us to get the same increases or similar increases as the other bargaining units have received this year, we are basically going to have to sell out some of our workers,” says Eric Kanthak, Chief Steward with the Professionals Guild of Ohio.
During negotiations, county officials offered employees a 3 percent increase; 2 percent across the board and a 1 percent wage range adjustment.
Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert told 2 NEWS:
“Commissioners respect the work of child welfare caseworkers, as their work is vitally important to our community. The county proposal was a fair offer, both to our employees and to our taxpayers.”
The County says they offered a 3 percent wage increase that would give caseworkers an additional $1,000 per year, but the union claims they were supposed to get the same contractual wage increase as another union that represents Job and Family Services employees.
“They said we would get the same as AFSCME, but we were not going to get any more. We have worked with that. This time we are asking for like and kind. They are not willing to give it to us,” said Kanthak.
Montgomery County furthers their defense by saying their workers are some of the highest paid caseworkers in the state, claiming if wages increased, it would be fiscally irresponsible for the county.
They offered the chart below comparing wages for Child Welfare Workers in southwest Ohio’s Job and Family Services region, showing data from December of 2018:
Professional Guild of Ohio members say they may have no choice but to consider voting and issuing a 10-day strike notice with full intent to shut down services that are frequently used by the community.
Kanthak said, “We would shut it down. And a lot of families that depend on us will not receive services they need.”
Montgomery County maintains they have a plan in place should a strike happen.
An outside fact finder ruled for the union, saying the County should grant a 6 percent wage increase. However, the county rejected that.
Both sides tell 2 NEWS they are willing to go back to the table.