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160 Lorain County Jobs and Family Service workers on strike over benefits

Posted at 4:05 PM, Sep 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-26 17:11:27-04

One hundred sixty Lorain County Jobs and Family Service workers are on strike.

A dozen of them hit the picket lines on this hot September day, but contract negotiations have turned cold between the workers and county administrators.

The agency helps with welfare and child support. The strike means fewer workers to handle clients at the agency’s headquarters on North Ridge Road.

"It seems like they're still trying really hard to take care of everybody,” said client Rachel Fisk.

Fisk had to file paperwork Tuesday and said there’s only one person working the counter. What usually takes her five minutes took about a half an hour, and even longer to get help over the phone.
 
"There's kind of just one person there you know doing everything," Fisk said.

The strike hinges around only one remaining issue: county commissioners said the county needs to save money.

So, they want service workers, whose spouses are offered health insurance through their employer, to go on their spouses' plans. Otherwise, the workers would have to pay a surcharge.

Workers say they haven’t been given the amount of that fee.

"The members need that information to make an informed decision to make a decision on their contract," said Kelly Fields with the local UAW and representing the workers.

Long-time Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo said negotiations haven’t gotten far enough to discuss a surcharge.

"We've had multiple discussions through mediation right through Sunday evening and to no effect so far," Kalo said.

To help clients who have been put out by the strike, the agency has extended hours to include Saturdays at its headquarters on North Ridge Road.