County spokeswoman Brianna Wooten confirmed a tentative agreement was reached Monday.
“The strikers should be returning to work” Tuesday, she said. “The commissioners will vote on it following the union’s ratification of the agreement. That will be the next step.”
MORE: Children Services workers to go on strike again Sunday
Both sides said particular details of the agreement will not be disclosed until after the vote to ratify.
Hay said union workers had expressed a desire to get a deal done Monday because their health insurance was being dropped at midnight. “If you didn’t go in today they were going to cut off your health insurance,” she said. “They already had cut off our vision, dental and life insurance. But the strike had ended today and we’ve vacated the picket lines.”
When negotiations began nearly seven months ago, the union wanted a 6% increase for all its workers. The county originally offered a 1.5% increase, but later changed it to 2% and then 4%. The final offer was for 5%, retroactive to April 1.
Union leaders said top-scale earners would not get a 5% raise to base pay, but instead would receive a lump-sum payment.
The union went on strike in July, but the county sought a temporary injunction preventing the walkout that was granted by Common Pleas Judge Richard S. Skelton. The 60-day injunction expired last Sunday and union workers again hit the picket line for the past week.
Wooten said the county was always willing to get back to the negotiating table and come up with “a wage increase that is both fair and reasonable.”
Suzanne Dichito, a union member, said she’s glad about having a tentative agreement.
“I have been doing this since 1995, and I can tell you that caseworkers make so many sacrifices and put their lives on the line in some situations, trying to help people with mental health and drug addiction issues and help children in need,” she said. “I am glad that this is ending and everybody can get back to work.”
MORE: State board to rule on future of Children Services strike