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Workers from Chester County Human Services Department Vote to Unionize by Nearly 2 to 1 Margin

Months of forced anti-union meetings and the hiring of an out-of-state union-busting firm on taxpayers’ dime was not enough to break workers desire to form a union. Yesterday, workers from Chester County Human Services department voted 96-56 to form a union and affiliate with Teamsters Local 384.

As Rich Eline – a social worker in the Human Services department – reported in Raging Chicken Press earlier this month, the 163 caseworkers from departments including Aging, Children and Youth, Drug & Alcohol, Mental Health/IDD and the Youth Center grew increasingly frustrated by their working conditions.

The caseworkers are charged with working with the most needy and vulnerable of the county’s citizens, in many cases those unable to care for themselves. Despite the wealth all around them, these employees are frustrated by increasing workloads and budget cutbacks. They are constantly being asked to do more with less. They have not received a raise in four years and many feel they can no longer afford to live in the county they serve. They remain the lowest paid in the 5-county Philadelphia area.

Chester County is the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania and ranks 24th on Forbes Magazine’s “25 Richest Counties” list.

Now that the votes have been counted and workers have spoken clearly in favor of unionizing, they will begin the process of negotiating their first contract. Chester County Commissioner Terence Farrell’s initial response to the union victory was encouraging, stating that he “respected the outcome of the vote.” In the next several months we will see if that respect will mean bargaining in good faith with workers who provide vital services to residents of Chester County.

 

About Raging Chicken Press

Kevin Mahoney is the Founder and Editor Zero of Raging Chicken Press. When he's not rabble-rousing on Raging Chicken, he's teaching rhetoric and writing at Kutztown University. Contact: Website | Facebook | Twitter | More Posts

1 Comment to Workers from Chester County Human Services Department Vote to Unionize by Nearly 2 to 1 Margin

  1. Kevin,

    Nice article, I just have a few adjustments.
    1. We all received a 1% across the board raise in 2012, making it a total of just 1% over the past 3 years. We were promised a 2% raise for 2013, but only if we voted no to unionization.
    2. In 2012 starting salaries were adjusted up a few percentage points, bumping the salaries of those hired in 2012 higher. However, compared to the number of employees there for more than one year, very few employees received such an increase. Furthermore, while this was great for the new employees of 2012, it caused MAJOR compression issues with more than 120 veteran workers. Veteran workers that had been with the County for between 2 years and in some cases over 8 years and who had suddenly found themselves making the same, only slightly more or just a couple thousand dollars more than someone there less than one year. Several people quit as a result of this slap in the face.

    3. Because of the raised starting salary of new hires in 2012, newly hired workers are finally paid more, but just barely more, than new hires in the much poorer County of Delaware and not much more than that of those in Lancaster County. However, these employees remain grossly underpaid (between 4,000 and 7,000 dollars less) when compared to the same workers with the same experience in Montgomery and Bucks Counties. Also, those of us crushed by compression make far less than our counterparts in all surrounding counties of similar years of experience and similar jobs.

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