From the coalition, “Stronger Communities. A Better Bargain”
Fairfax School Board, Loudoun Supervisors Vote in Support of Collective Bargaining
Reporters, wanted to be sure you saw that the Fairfax County School Board last night unanimously expressed their support for state legislation to give teachers the freedom to collectively bargain. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors also voted earlier this week in support of giving public service workers this freedom.
Fairfax County School Board Member Karl Frisch tweeted, “Last night we sent an unmistakable message to the General Assembly that teachers and staff deserve a seat at the table… a #BetterBargain. Grateful to my School Board colleagues for unanimously supporting my amendment reversing our 20-year opposition to #CollectiveBargaining.”
“We are thrilled that Fairfax County Public Schools, the third largest employer in Virginia, has voted unanimously to support collective bargaining rights for our states’ public workers,” said Tina Williams, president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers. “The Board’s historic vote recognizes that localities support the rights of educators to have a voice at work and the power to negotiate for improved school conditions. It is a huge victory that leads the way for other school boards in the state to follow. Most importantly, it helps chart the path to a better life for our teachers, better schools for our students and a better community for us all.”
“A high turnover rate makes it hard to carry out services for the juveniles that we serve,” said Julius Reynolds, a juvenile probation officer in Loudoun County who spoke before the Board of Supervisors in support of the measure. “Most of us are forced to carry ungodly case loads as we work with families on decisions that will impact them for the rest of their lives. If we had a voice on the job through collective bargaining, we could improve retention rates and better help families throughout Loudoun County.”
The votes follow a Washington Post op-ed in which Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney called for the General Assembly to pass Delegate Elizabeth Guzman’s bill to give both state and local public sector workers the freedom to collectively bargain. Delegate Guzman’s bill passed the House earlier this month and would include state workers like corrections officer Bridget Squire, who said, “When workers have a seat at the table, many of the problems that confront us and contribute to our inability to retain qualified employees can be solved.”
Virginia is one of only three states in the nation with a blanket ban on collective bargaining for public sector workers. In an article published earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that Joseph E. Slater, a University of Toledo professor who specializes in labor and employment law, said the legislation would have national resonance. According to the Post, Slater “said Virginia has for decades served as ‘America’s poster child, along with the two Carolinas,’ for hostility to public-sector labor rights.”
“There is supremely important symbolic weight here,” he said, according to the Post. Delegate Guzman’s bill “would lift the spirits of labor in the United States.”
Authorized by “Stronger Communities. A Better Bargain”, a coalition comprising Virginia AFL-CIO; The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); The American Federation of Teachers (AFT); The Communications Workers of America (CWA); Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Virginia Education Association (VEA); The Virginia Professional Fire Fighters (VPFF) and The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400.