A Montgomery County judge’s ruling Monday keeps hundreds of Montgomery County Children’s Services workers from returning to the picket line they began on Friday.
Judge Richard Skelton extended Friday’s temporary restraining order barring the Professional Guild of Ohio (PGO) union from continuing its strike. The county and the union must now return to the bargaining table.
Montgomery County Children’s Services workers walked out on strike for about two hours on Friday before a court ordered them back to work, effectively halting the strike for 72 hours.
Then, on Sunday, a state board ruled the strike would present a, “clear and present danger to the public.”
Following the State Employment Relations Board's supportive ruling, Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert issued a statement saying the county has negotiated in good faith.
"However," he said in the statement, "the union has continued to demand an unreasonable and fiscally irresponsible 6-percent wage increase that we cannot support. Our child welfare caseworkers are already the highest paid in our region and near the top of the pay scale for comparable positions throughout the state."
Montgomery County officials then moved for a 60-day extension of the strike ban, which was granted by Judge Skelton on Monday.
Jane Hay with the PGO, representing 270 Children’s Services workers, says despite the rulings halting the strike, members will use the next two months to turn up the heat on the county.
"We actually see this as a win." she says. "We've even gotten state attention from different representatives and the mayor, and we have backing and support from these people in the community and they want to see us back to work. So now, they need to put the pressure on the county to come back with an actual fair wage rate that they want to offer us."
Brianna Wooten, communications director for Montgomery County, says the judge's 60-day extension gives everyone, "some breathing room.”
"It will also allow us to continue providing the most comprehensive support for children and families while continuing to negotiate with the union. That's what we're looking forward to, is to be able to sit back down at the table, so we can come to a longterm agreement.”
Contract talks with the union began in February. The PGO filed a 10-day strike notice earlier this month.