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Striking Social Workers Cut A Deal With The County

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Striking county social workers are claiming victory today after a tentative deal was reached with L.A. County to increase new hires and decrease work loads.

The deal will require the county to hire an additional 450 new employees of the Department of Children and Family Services by next October, KPCC reports. Overall, the county is expected to hire 600 new employees in the next year, or 50 per month. The union representing the social workers initially demanded 35 new hires per year for the next 17 months.

Additionally, the county agreed to decrease paperwork by 25 percent over the next six months, and a "yardstick," or limit, on caseloads was also agreed upon.

"It wasn't easy but we made history,'' said union leader Chychy Ekeochah in a statement. "Because we put it on the line, the county accepted our proposals to protect children. That's a big victory for us and the children we serve."

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The union representing the social workers posted this victory message on their website:

For six days, LA County Children's Social Workers stood strong on the strike lines--we protested, rallied and some of us even got arrested in the name of child safety. It worked. When the Supervisors saw the incredible solidarity of our members on the street, they understood the importance of lowering caseloads and hiring additional CSW's and they knew they had to act.

The Board asked a mediator to ask us to come back to the table. And we said yes.

Two days later, we've won huge gains for LA County's most vulnerable children.

The social workers walked off the job on December 5, claiming that the increasing workload and lack of caseworkers hindered their ability to accurately process the cases they receive. The county responded that they were hiring more caseworkers, but the strikers claimed that the amount wasn't enough and they wanted it in writing. On Tuesday, seven social workers were arrested for sitting down in the middle of the street during a planned protest.

A spokesman for the county confirmed a deal has been reached after fierce negotiations, according to CNS. "This agreement provides for a way forward in providing the best services to the children and families of this county," spokesman David Sommers said.

Videos: Seven Striking Social Workers Arrested During Protest