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Social workers protest in front of courthouse

December 27, 2001

Social workers protest in front of courthouse



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - About 20 Franklin County social workers picketed in front of the county courthouse Thursday evening, carrying signs demanding pay raises.

The Franklin County Commissioners have offered the workers a 3 percent raise per year for each of the next three years but the union, Local 668 of the Pennsylvania Social Services Union, rejected it unanimously.

Local 668 has about 18,000 members statewide, said Tom Herman, union business agent in Harrisburg, Pa., who was on the picket line Thursday.

The local workers are employed by Franklin County's Children and Youth Services, Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Drug and Alcohol, the Area Agency on Aging and the Human Service Development Fund.

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The union won the right to become the workers' bargaining unit in December 1999. Negotiations between the union and the county have been under way for 18 months. The union is seeking its first contract. The last time the two sides met was Nov. 29.

"We're here to voice our displeasure of the county commissioners' last offer," Herman said.

Steve Barnett, a case manager, said the union wants the 3 percent cost-of-living raise, 1 percent for union dues and step increases for long-time employees.

Barnett said he has worked for the county for 15 years and makes $13.47 an hour. "A new employee will make the same amount after a year and a half," he said. "We want a reward for our years of service.

Barnett said the union could legally strike. "We don't want to but it can be a possibility," he said.

Joyce Brennan, a case manager for seven years, said the workers are determined.

"I need more money for all that they ask me to do," she said.

The commissioners issued a brief statement on Thursday's rally, calling it a "ploy to use the media as leverage for negotiations. We believe neither the media nor the public will fall for what in reality is a public relations campaign by out-of-town organizers."

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