The union representing some 4,000 child social workers in Los Angeles County went on strike Thursday after contract talks broke down.
Representatives of the Service Employees International Union Local 721 say the county won't hire more employees to deal with under-staffing and unmanageable caseloads.
"A strike is what you do when everything else fails. Everything else has failed," said Bob Schoonover, SEIU 721 president. "Children in L.A. County need help now. They haven't been getting the help they need."
"I think we get a bad rap in the community. But our main goal is to keep kids safe. Things do happen. Unfortunate things do happen. And we wish those things didn't happen, but in order to reduce those things from happening and in order to keep our children safe, we need more workers," said Delmi Madrigal, a social worker who has been with the Department of Children and Family Services for five years.
The county says it's regrettable the social workers decided to strike when a settlement is so close.
Both sides say pay is an issue, too.