Social Workers Return to Work, Negotiations in L.A. County

December 11, 2013

Los Angeles County social workers will return to work and resume contract negotiations Wednesday after a six-day strike, union officials announced Tuesday evening.

The child welfare workers went on strike — the first by county workers in more than a decade — after months of contentious negotiations. All of the 55,000 workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 721, including the social workers, have been without a contract for the last two months.

SEIU Local 721 President Bob Schoonover credited a rally staged by social workers and supporters Tuesday outside the county Hall of Administration with bringing county officials back to the table.

"When they saw the incredible solidarity of our members on the street, the Supervisors knew they had to act," he said in a statement.

County spokesman David Sommers said a mediator brought in by management had been working since Monday to bring the union back to the table.

"We're very pleased that SEIU is coming back ... and we're hopeful this action will result in a settlement," he said.

The county and SEIU have reached an agreement on raises, the county's contribution to health premiums and the majority of other contract issues. Social worker caseloads are the main remaining sticking point, as the union wants the county to commit to hiring 35 more social workers a month for the next 17 months.

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