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Lackawanna County’s Children and Family Services workers went on strike


JUNE 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Lackawanna County’s Children and Family Services workers went on strike


REGION, June 2nd- On Friday May 15th members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Local 524 who work for Lackawanna County’s Children and Family Services went of strike because of the failure of gaining a successor collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the county government. The two parties reached an agreement of a new three-year CBA on May 27th and the workers returned to their jobs on Thursday May 28th. AFSCME represents approximately 90 workers employed by Lackawanna County’s Children and Youth agency. There are seven bargaining units of unionized workers under contract with Lackawanna County.

The workers had been working under the terms and conditions of the previous CBA since it expired in December 2014. The new pact will expire in December 2016.

The main issue for the workers was wages. Lackawanna County’s final offer included wage increases of 2 percent for 2014; 2 1/2 percent increase for 2015; and an 2 percent increase for 2016. However, the workers believed they were being “disrespected” with the offer and choose to strike for a better economic package.

Local 524 is affiliated with AFSCME District Council 87 in Dunmore, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The workers voted by more than 50 votes to accept the agreement. The new CBA included a wage increase of 2 percent the first and final year of the agreement but the workers received a 3 percent increase in year two, this year. The deal included retro-active wages meaning the members will receive back-payments for the first seventeen months of the new pact.

Matt Balas, Business Representative for District Council 87, told the newspaper the membership was upset with Democratic Majority Commissioner Jim Wansacz’s attitude toward them. Mr. Wansacz basically said “take-it-or-leave-it”, Mr. Balas said.

Also, Mr. Wansacz believed they would not vote against the pact, which they did, they would not vote to strike, which they did, and the membership would not actually go on strike, which they did, Mr. Balas stated.

The workers suffered financial hard-ship during the walk-out because AFSCME has no strike benefit and they did not qualify for unemployment benefits.