Chester County Human Services workers are voting Wednesday on whether to unionize with the Teamsters.
“They can’t justify not giving us raises anymore. Enough is enough,” said Monica Warmijak, a caseworker with the county’s Children, Youth and Families division.
For two years, there’s been a pay freeze for all county employees. Warmijak, who works to reunite foster children with their biological parents, said her department has experienced high turnover and increased caseloads as employees have left for better-paying jobs.
Warmijak says she could do the same.
“People can say, ‘Go to a different county and work. Get another job.’ No. This is my county, my community. This is what I want to do. I shouldn’t have to leave,” she said. “I love my job and that’s why I’m doing this.”
Chester is the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania. But Warmijak says the starting salary for a caseworker– about $32,000– is on the lower end compared with nearby counties.
County Commissioner Ryan Costello agrees that the salary issue is a valid point. He said, however, that a union would not benefit workers.
“I hope following the election everybody takes a deep breath and we all realize that we’re on the same team,” said Costello. “I hope that there’s not a union. But regardless of whether there is a union moving forward, we’re going to do our best to make sure the employees are treated fairly.”