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Potter County Human Services Workers Frustrated As Contract Negotiations Stall With The County

June 24, 2024

Potter County Workers Deserve a Fair Contract!

Human Services workers across multiple agencies in Potter County rejected the County’s last offer for a four-year contract. After nearly a year of contract negotiations, workers are deeply frustrated by the disrespectful treatment they’ve received at the bargaining table as many struggle to make ends meet.

Rather than bargain with Potter County employees themselves, County Commissioners have hired a highly-paid Pittsburgh attorney from a law firm with an anti-union history. Instead of negotiating fair contracts in good faith, the attorney in this case has prolonged the process, resulting in increased expenses for the County and an insulting proposal that workers rejected. While County funds will be used to pay tens of thousands of dollars to a Pittsburgh law firm, the salaries for the human services workers in question are reimbursed approximately 90% by State funds. Potter County Commissioners are more willing to spend taxpayer dollars on big city lawyers than they are to pay their own employees a fair wage.

“We love our jobs. We care about our clients, and we’re here to serve the community because we believe in the work we are doing. What the County is offering isn’t enough to cover the rising costs of living and the price of healthcare. The County Commissioners don’t see the labor we put in day after day. We go the extra mile to save County resources and funds. We come in early and stay late, often working through our breaks to keep up with the workload. Because we are so understaffed, each person is doing several different jobs, and it has reached the breaking point,” said shop steward Lacey Crawford.

“As a Potter County Human Services worker, we see people struggling to make ends meet as they navigate life’s hardships. And as workers, we are not immune.  Our agencies are drastically understaffed, and ultimately, that means delays in service and longer waiting times for people who need access to support. We’re asking for respectable wages and affordable insurance, so we can take care of our families and continue helping the community we love,” added Kelly Ahearn, human services worker in Potter County.

“The only way to fix our retention crisis is by fixing the wages. We need a sustainable starting rate to help keep the staff we hire and train. It isn’t easy to keep people because they can go elsewhere and get paid a much better wage. These aren’t easy jobs that you leave at the office. We give much more to our clients and co-workers than the County is willing to recognize. They don’t care if services slip, but we care because we don’t want to fail our neighbors who depend on us,” said Scott Clark, Negotiating Team member.