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Pennsylvania Welfare And Unemployment Offices Open Despite Pickets

July 3, 1985

HARRISBURG, Pa (AP) _ Striking workers from welfare and unemployment offices walked picket lines for a second day Tuesday and marched outside the Executive Mansion, but business continued inside state offices.

Although administration spokesmen said welfare and unemployment checks were not delayed by the walkout, spokesman Duke Horschock said unemployed people seeking jobs could expect delays in getting interviews.

Members of the Pennsylvania Social Services Union and the Pennsylvania Employment Security Employees Association struck Sunday at midnight pending a vote by members on a state government contract proposal offering annual salary increases of at least 3 percent but cutting holiday time and sick leave.

Anna Burger Price, president of the social services union, said voting on the offer was scheduled Tuesday night.

The administration said 2,632 union members reported for work Tuesday, compared to 2,400 Monday. The two unions represent 11,000 state workers.

Of 12 unions representing state workers, the social services group and the employment association were the only ones to strike while members vote on the administration’s proposal.

The largest union, the 51,000-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has continued to work while its rank and file votes, which officials said may be completed by week’s end.

The tentative, three-year pact calls for annual salary increases of at least 3 percent and reduced holiday time and sick leave.

About 100 strikers, many dressed in navy blue T-shirts saying ″State Workers United For Fairness,″ carried ″On Strike″ signs and chanted ″They say rollback; We say fight back″ as they marched outside the Executive Mansion for over an hour Tuesday.

″We’re still out here fighting,″ Ms. Price said, adding that the strike gained additional support in its second day, although she said she could give no figures. She said state welfare offices were turning clients away.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported that clients at some offices waited to for over an hour and then were told to come back later.

City police escorted some workers through picket lines at welfare offices in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Monday, and AFSCME workers crossed picket lines at other state offices.

Shellie Kramer, an assistance case worker and a picket captain in Philadelphia, said the state’s offer was unacceptable.

″We’re fighting for a decent contract,″ she said, accusing Gov. Richard Thornburgh of ″taking back what we have.″

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