Members of the Professionals Guild of Ohio, which represents about 270 Montgomery County Children Services positions, picket outside the Haines Children’s Center on the first day of a strike in July. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart
Photo: Chris Stewart

Children Services negotiations break down again

A provisional agreement between Montgomery County Children Services and its employee union fell apart, leading both sides to a meeting with a judge Wednesday and a court-ordered public session currently scheduled Friday.

The Professionals Guild of Ohio (PGO) and the county seemed to make progress last week, each announcing “a conceptual framework for a tentative agreement, subject to ratification on both sides.”

MORE: County, union divide grows in Children Services dispute

But the deal fell apart Tuesday when the county offered written language that “was not what we verbalized or what we (PGO) understood the agreement to be,” said Jane Hay, the union’s local president.

A county spokeswoman also confirmed on Wednesday that the framework for an agreement had collapsed.

Judge Richard Skelton, who temporarily halted a strike by the union, met Wednesday in chambers with both sides in advance of a public session Friday at noon. Skelton closed a court-ordered mediation session last week that he had first ordered open to the public.

With no agreement on wages, the local PGO chapter went on strike July 19, but Skelton, a Common Pleas Court judge, issued a temporary restraining immediately halting the strike after Children Services filed for injunctive relief. Skelton extended the restraining order for 60 days and ordered the two sides to return to negotiations after the State Employment Relations Board determined the strike presented a clear and present danger to children.

MORE: State board: Striking Montgomery County children’s services employees must return to work

Neither side has revealed details of their most recent offers.

In July, Joyce Carter, the county’s director of human resources, said the county offered PGO a 3% percent raise across-the-board, a 1% range adjustment and a $500 lump sum equivalent to approximately an additional 1%.

PGO, representing about 270 child welfare workers, first asked for a 6% increase, one consistent with the county’s latest contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Union officials said members had voted against the county’s offer of a 4% increase and any subsequent offers that didn’t go higher.

Union: Montgomery County child welfare workers denied legal right to strike

In a counterclaim in Common Pleas Court, PGO has argued the court lacks jurisdiction and Skelton erred by halting a legal strike by the workers.

Workers in the union handle abuse and neglect cases for about 2,000 children.

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