State mediators will oversee the July 18 session.

Mediation session ‘one last shot’ to avoid Children Services strike

A mediation session has been scheduled for July 18 between Montgomery County officials and their unionized Children Services workers, representatives of both groups confirmed late Wednesday.

That session will occur just hours before the union, made up largely of Montgomery County child welfare caseworkers, is scheduled to go on strike at 12:01 a.m. July 19.

FIRST STORY: County union files 10-day strike notice

Both county spokeswoman Brianna Wooten and Professionals Guild of Ohio Council 12 President Jane Hay confirmed that State Employment Relations Board mediators will try to help the groups reach a tentative agreement.

“SERB called me, and there are two mediators who will be assigned to come down here to give it one last shot,” Hay said.

The county and the local PGO union have been negotiating for at least six months. The main sticking point is pay raises for the third and final year of the ongoing contract. This spring, the county had offered a package that included a 3% raise, while the union had pushed for 4% raise, plus 2% for employees with certain evaluation ratings. The union pointed to similar raises that other county employees had received.

HISTORY: Children Services strikes have been rare in Ohio

A SERB fact-finder held a hearing on the wage issues May 29 and three weeks later sided with the union’s proposal on pay raises, with two adjustments. But on June 25, the county commissioners voted to reject that report.

Without sharing specifics, Wooten said that when the parties went back to negotiations last week, the county made its offer more generous. Administrator Michael Colbert has said Montgomery County has to be responsible stewards of taxpayer money.

Children Services handles cases involving foster care and adoption, child abuse and neglect, crisis intervention and court proceedings. Only one Ohio Children Services group has gone on strike in the past 15 years – a three-week Butler County strike in 2014.

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