Children’s Services union votes to strike May 18th

Unionized workers at Franklin County Children Services have authorized a strike if the union fails to reach an agreement management. The union has rejected a state fact-finder’s report which was requested after a breakdown in contract negotiations.

The big issue separating the two sides is the employee share of health insurance benefits. The fact finder suggests workers pay $70-$80 per month for health insurance. Under the current contract, union members pay nothing for health insurance.

The president of union’s bargaining unit Beth Earl says the increase will cut the take home pay of workers who have a starting salary of 8-10 dollars per hour. Says it’s a benefit that keeps social workers from leaving.

Earl says under proposal, health insurance costs could rise to $200 per month.

Children Services executive director John Saros says health premiums are a primary issue but would not comment further on the specifics of negotiations.

Saros says he’s concerned about losing employees as well but points out that workers in the private sector also pay for benefits.

Saros says he hopes an agreement can be reached but he says the agency is prepared for a strike.

A third contract extension since January expires May 17th. Union members say if an agreement is not reached by midnight of that day a strike will begin at 8:00 the next morning.