More than 100 employees of Lackawanna County (Pennsylvania) Family and Youth Services took the ultimate step to go out on strike in May to demand respect in the workplace. After 11 days on the picket line, they won.
The workers attempted to negotiate with the county for two years. Tired of being walked on by the county, they voted to walk out May 14.
The Lackawanna County Family and Youth Services employees lacked longevity pay; all other units in the county had longevity pay contractually. Also, their wages were much lower than in surrounding counties.
“Enough was enough,” said Mary Rose Moran, AFSCME Local 524 president. “They gave us no option but to take our fight to the street. We work hard, provide important services to the community and that work must be respected.”
After the AFSCME members voted down a tentative agreement that did not offer the longevity pay and wage increases they sought, the employer agreed to return to the bargaining table. At the next bargaining meeting, however, the county’s chief negotiator, County Commissioner Jim Wansacz, failed to show up.
“How much disrespect can a group of workers endure,” asked Kerri Gallagher, director of AFSCME District Council 87. “The brave women and men took their demand for respect to the streets and won.”
As part of the agreement to return to work, Local 524 members won their long-sought longevity pay and wage increases. “What happened in Lackawanna serves as an example of power for all people in Pennsylvania,” said AFSCME Council 13 Exec. Dir. Dave Fillman, also an AFSCME International vice president. “When we stand strong, we win. When we demand respect, we get it.”