Local

LA County says independent mediator will try to help end social worker strike

Social workers strike outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, social workers rallied outside five supervisor offices to demand the county hire more social workers and lessen case loads.
Social workers strike outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, social workers rallied outside five supervisor offices to demand the county hire more social workers and lessen case loads.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC
Social workers strike outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, social workers rallied outside five supervisor offices to demand the county hire more social workers and lessen case loads.
Social workers with the County Department of Child and Family Services have been on strike since Dec. 5 to bring the union and DCFS back to the bargaining table. Social workers are demanding the county hire up to 600 more workers to alleviate heavy case loads for many social workers who can have up to 50 cases.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC
Social workers strike outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, social workers rallied outside five supervisor offices to demand the county hire more social workers and lessen case loads.
Department of Child and Family Services social workers picket outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, the workers a demanding a lower social worker to child ratio.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC
Social workers strike outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, social workers rallied outside five supervisor offices to demand the county hire more social workers and lessen case loads.
The strikers made their way up to Supervisor Gloria Molina's office to deliver demands to her. Molina was not present and social workers described their requests to a secretary.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC
Social workers strike outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, social workers rallied outside five supervisor offices to demand the county hire more social workers and lessen case loads.
Daniel Marquez, a social worker with DCFS, explains some of the strike's demands to a secretary in Gloria Molina's office. Strikers filled Molina's office and hallways to explain why social workers need smaller case loads and convince the supervisor to support hiring more social workers.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC
Social workers strike outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, social workers rallied outside five supervisor offices to demand the county hire more social workers and lessen case loads.
Social workers explained their demands to a secretary in Supervisor gloria Molina's office. A main demand is that the county hire more social workers to lower the social worker to child ratio.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC
Social workers strike outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, social workers rallied outside five supervisor offices to demand the county hire more social workers and lessen case loads.
Blanca Gomez has been a social worker for 13 years and is on strike to demand more social workers to take on cases with DCFS. The current contract allows for a worker to have 31-38 cases but some workers have up to 50 cases.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC
Social workers strike outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, social workers rallied outside five supervisor offices to demand the county hire more social workers and lessen case loads.
Social workers on strike fill the hallways of Supervisor Gloria Molina's office. The SEIU and children's social workers are demanding a new contract with the county that would lower the social worker to child ratio.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC
Social workers strike outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, social workers rallied outside five supervisor offices to demand the county hire more social workers and lessen case loads.
Strikers leave Supervisor Molina's office after delivering demands to the supervisor's secretary. The social workers would like to see the county hire 600 more social workers to decrease the worker to child ratio.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC
Social workers strike outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, social workers rallied outside five supervisor offices to demand the county hire more social workers and lessen case loads.
Daniel Marquez leads other social workers in chants outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, the SEIU and children's social workers have been on strike since Dec. 5 to demand the county hire more social workers to lessen the case load for over-burdened workers.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC
Social workers strike outside Supervisor Gloria Molina's office on Monday Dec. 9, social workers rallied outside five supervisor offices to demand the county hire more social workers and lessen case loads.
Ruby Guillen has worked with DCFS for 15 years and says the current technology that social workers uses is a hindrance, requiring them to fill out forms twice, once on the computer and once on paper. She says there are mobile apps available that are tailored to case workers that could help them serve the county more efficiently.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC


An independent mediator will try to end the social workers' strike, the spokesman for L.A. County's chief executive told KPCC Monday.

The county called the mediator in, and expected him to be in place and working by early afternoon Monday, said David Sommers, spokesman for County CEO Bill Fujioka. He said the mediator - who helped the two sides with talks on benefits in recent weeks - would ask Service Employees International Union Local 721 to return to the negotiating table.

Local 721 President Bob Schoonover told KPCC he was unaware that the mediator was being brought in. 

Social workers represented by Local 721 went on strike last Thursday demanding that the county hire hundreds more social workers to ease caseloads, and provide a retroactive pay raise. Sommers expressed frustration over the walkout, since he said the two sides had already agreed on a variety of issues, including pay raises and increased county contributions to workers' retirement funds and health care plans.

About 450 social workers did not show up for work at the Department of Public Social Services on Monday, said Sommers. He called the impact "minimal," since that represents about four percent of DPSS' 12,500 employees.

Roughly 1,200 were absent at the Department of Children and Family Services, "a little less than Thursday and Friday," he added.

Union officials said they would have their own numbers Monday afternoon on how many stayed away from work.

Sommers acknowledged that the strike "is a disruption," but insisted that there have not been "major impacts on wait times or on delivery of services." 

Hundreds of managers and administrators are doing the jobs of the striking workers. "It's not an ideal situation," said Sommers, "but we're getting through it." He expressed the hope that the strike would be resolved quickly and the social workers would return to work, because "we need them - they have a better understanding of their cases."

Local 721 represents 52,000 of L.A. County's 103,000 employees.