Portage County community members on strike

Madison Tromler

Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities social workers have been on strike since Oct. 4, 2017, due to not having a contract over a year while negotiating for a contract for a year and a half. 

Nearly twenty workers gathered in front of the Developmental Disabilities building on Oct. 9, 2017 to spread awareness to the community about the strike.

Christina West, a social worker and case manager said there has not been a cost of living increase in ten years. West said it is getting to the point where people are starting to make less money every year and it is impactful.

“It’s about value and respect. When you’re not valued as an employee or treated respectfully as an employee, it’s really difficult to come to work every day,” West said.

“This is a people job, we work with people, for and support people so you should treat the people who you are working with, with respect.”

West said there are vulnerable people in Portage County that need their support and the workers love what they do, but they need negotiation. 

Workers say they want to get back to work as soon as possible and care about their jobs; however, they want the community to stand behind them. 

Debra Gordon, a service and supportive administrator and county board member of Developmental Disabilities, said “We are begging the community to help us get back to the table.”

“The administration of the Board of Developmental Disabilities gave a last and final offer and they refused to go back to the table and discuss a fair and equitable contract with us,” Gordon said.

“We are social workers. We want to go back to work. We want to serve the people we were hired to serve.”

State Representative, Kathleen Clyde said she wants to help these workers and will do whatever she can to advocate for a negotiation.

“I want to help these workers get back on the job and get to the important service that they provide in our community to some of our most vulnerable citizens,” Clyde said. “Just talking to these workers, you see the real difference they make in so many families’ lives. I would like to see negotiations start up again, and I will be talking to other leaders around Portage County to see if we can get progress on that.”

She said she’s been speaking with workers, representatives, and leaders in the county and state to try help the workers meet their needs.

“We are going strong until we hear from them,” said West. The workers plan to stay on strike until a negotiation is met.

Madison Tromler is a TV2 reporter. Contact her at [email protected].