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Butler County social workers start their strike

Mark Heyne

Dozens of Butler County social workers started walking a picket line Monday morning after contract talks stalled.  Union president Becky Palmer said the two sides differ on wages.  The county is offering a series of lump sums and the union wants percentage increases built into the next 3-year agreement as well as reinstatement of step increases in pay. 

Credit Mark Heyne / WVXU News

She said a fact finder determined Butler County social workers were underpaid compared to their peers by an average of 12 percent.

"We've lost a lot of caseworkers and we've had higher case loads," said Palmer.  "As a result, our sticking point is wages in order to keep our current staff here and bring in quality new staff."

Palmer noted there are about 100 caseworkers to serve the county.

The Hamilton Journal-News reports the county is bringing in permanent and temporary workers to handle the agency's cases.   During a press conference Sunday, County Administrator Charlie Young said most children would be shifting to new caseworkers Monday.  He said the gap between what the county can offer and what the union was asking for was too great to overcome. 

Palmer said the union is willing to go back to the bargaining table, but, so far, has not heard from the county about restarting negotiations.