BY SHOUSHAN BAGHBOUDARIAN
SEIU Local 721
LOS ANGELES—An historic day of action at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors came to a close Tuesday evening with the announcement that children’s social workers and eligibility workers represented by SEIU 721 will resume negotiations with LA County management. The request to resume bargaining came through a mediator enlisted by the County.
LA County children’s social workers walked off the job on Thursday, Dec. 5. DPSS workers joined the strike lines on Dec. 9.
Additionally, striking social workers and eligibility workers have agreed to suspend their six-day-old work stoppage. Thousands of those workers, together with community and faith leaders, staged a day of civil disobedience in the name of child and family safety in downtown LA earlier today. Seven people, all chanting “Child Safety Now,” were arrested at the end of the action.
SEIU Local 721 President Bob Schoonover announced the resumption of talks during a rally at the LA County Dept. of Children and Family Services office in Compton. Children’s social workers at the Compton office carry some of the highest caseloads in the County. In May 2013, an arbitrator directed the County to lower social worker-to-child ratios at the Compton office. The order went unheeded, and SEIU 721 filed a lawsuit to enforce it in November.
Both groups say they will return to the strike lines if this new round of bargaining doesn’t produce a settlement that ensures the safety of children and families in the county social welfare system.
Children’s social workers will return to the bargaining table on Wednesday afternoon. Eligibility workers will return later in the week.