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Los Angeles County | Community News File

Social Workers Union Sets Strike Deadline for Today

September 30, 1997

The union representing 2,500 children's social workers employed by Los Angeles County says it will go on strike today if a settlement is not reached with county negotiators by early morning.

"We are telling our members that we strike at 7 a.m.," said Annette Jeffries, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 535.

County officials called the local back to the bargaining table Monday afternoon for renewed talks, after negotiations broke down in the predawn hours Saturday.

At issue are salaries and caseloads for social workers, who handle up to 40 children each, Jeffries said. Starting salary for a social worker trainee with a bachelor's degree is $1,958 per month.

Jeffries said the county has been offering a salary increase of 1.5%, but county Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen would not confirm the figure. Janssen said he was optimistic that a settlement would be reached before the deadline.

But Jeffries said the renewed talks did not result in any progress. "They're just not talking like they're going to move," she said. "They're not conciliatory."

Local 535 is one of several unions whose contracts with Los Angeles County expire this week. Other locals representing county employees in several departments have threatened to begin rolling strikes on Wednesday if a settlement is not reached by tonight.

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