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 Friday. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart
Photo: Chris Stewart

Children Services strike hinges on emergency meeting today

Whether a strike by Montgomery County child welfare workers presents a clear and present danger to the public is the subject of an emergency hearing this afternoon in Columbus.

A judge temporarily halted the strike that began Friday, and the county’s Children Services division and the union representing the striking workers were summoned to appear before the State Employment Relations Board (SERB).

MORE: State board to rule on future of Children Services strike

The 3 p.m. hearing is open to the public in SERB’s 12th-floor office at 65 East State St. in Columbus.

Children Services requested the hearing from SERB Friday afternoon after Montgomery Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Skelton issued a restraining order shutting down the Professionals Guild of Ohio strike for 72 hours.

Each side will have 60 minutes to present arguments to the board, which may allow extra time for rebuttals, according to the meeting notice.

If the SERB members determine a clear and present danger exists, Children Services may return to court and seek a 60-day extension of the 72-hour injunction, according to state law.

RELATED: Montgomery County child welfare workers strike for first time

The striking workers handle child protective services cases and monitor foster care and adoption cases for more than 2,000 children in the Montgomery County child welfare system. About three-quarters of the 270 employees in the bargaining unit are caseworkers.

The parties were unable to reach an agreement on wages during a mediation session Thursday and the employees quit working and started picketing Friday morning outside the Haines Children’s Center, the division’s headquarters on North Main Street in Harrison Twp.

MORE: Children Services strike would be Ohio’s second in 15 years, since one in Butler County

Children Services workers are under contract through March 31, 2020, but the agreement included a “re-opener” clause to negotiate wages for the third and final year of the contract.

The union asked for a 6% wage increase consistent with one the county recently gave workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The most the offered by the county has been 3%, according to the union.

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