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Childrens Services workers go on strike

Franklin county social workers are on strike after failing to reach a new contract agreement with the county.

The two sides remain committed to their positions.

The pickets went up at 7:00 in the morning as some 500 case workers and other children services employees walked off the job.

Like many labor disputes, this fight comes down to pay and benefits.

The county's children services agency wants its employees to Start paying health care premiums.

Under the current contract, employees pay nothing for health insurance. Management wants them to pay about 80 dollars per month.

Union negotiator Jill Bradfield says says they've already sacrificed pay in exchange for good benefits.

Union leader Gary Seigerst says asking agency workers to pay for health insurance is unfair.

Children's services director John Saros disputes claims that the agency workers are underpaid. He says as health insurance costs rise, workers must pick up some of that cost.

Saros says the agency has made plans to deal with the strike but there will be some service cutbacks. He says the agency has put a priority on protecting at-risk children. He says parental visitation services have been suspended.

Saros says no new talks are planned. Saros hopes the two sides can get back to the bargaining table Monday.

Mike Thompson spends much of his time correcting people who mispronounce the name of his hometown – Worcester, Massachusetts. Mike studied broadcast journalism at Syracuse University when he was not running in circles – as a distance runner on the SU track team.