DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Professional Guild of Ohio (PGO) union told 2 NEWS Monday the 10-day notice of their intent to strike has been filed with Montgomery County and the Ohio State Employment Relations Board Monday.
“We had reached the end of our rope. We’ve tried to negotiate with them, to meet with them. We’ve always been more than eager to go back to the table,” said Jane Hay, PGO President of Council 12.
The PGO represents more than 270 children services caseworkers in Montgomery County. The notice comes after two weeks of negotiations over wages.
Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert released a statement Monday afternoon, saying:
Montgomery County’s last offer to PGO would have provided fair and competitive compensation to our employees, and ensured that we remain responsible stewards of taxpayer money and our human services levy funds.
Please rest assured, our operations will remain open and we will continue to provide high-quality services during a strike. Montgomery County has a detailed and comprehensive contingency plan in place to ensure that we can continue to protect our children and families.
We respect the work of child welfare case workers. They have difficult jobs, and their work helps protect children in our community. However, we believe the County’s final offer was both fair and fiscally responsible.
Our goal is to provide fair and competitive compensation, so that we can recruit and retain top talent. Our PGO workforce is already well compensated, with our child welfare caseworkers the highest paid in our region.Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert
Despite Montgomery County claiming they have a plan, current caseworkers think it’s a bluff.
“I’ve been working with some families for years. So to bring somebody in fresh, saying hey…we know what we are doing. No they don’t,” John Stringer III, a Montgomery County Caseworker.
In June, the County said they offered a 3 percent wage increase that would give caseworkers an additional $1,000 per year, but the union claimed they were supposed to get the same contractual wage increase as AFSCME union members that work within Job and Family Services and other county departments.
AFSCME-represented employees got 6 percent wage increases. More than 800 county employees are represented by AFSCME.
“All through negotiations, every time stated this had nothing to do with money. That this was not financially driven at all,” said Hay.
County officials say on July 2, the parties met and the County made their “last and best offer.” PGO filed their notice of intent to strike on Monday, meaning the strike could begin on or after July 19.
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:
PGO says the opioid epidemic has stretched caseworkers thin. They believe a 6 percent wage increase aligns with the amount of work being asked of them .
2 NEWS will continue to follow this story and keep you updated when more information is available.