Essential workers from around the region joined dozens peers from Loudoun County to rally for a collective bargaining ordinance from local leaders.
The rally was held early Wednesday evening in the front of the Loudoun County Government Center in Leesburg.
The ordinance, if passed, would allow county employees, such as firefighters, maintenance workers, mental health nurses and librarians to enter into collective bargaining with the county.
On May 1, Virginia counties, cities and towns were permitted to enter into collective bargaining agreements with labor unions as a bargaining agent for public employees following legislation passed in March by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam (D).
Constitutional officers and their employees are excluded from coverage.
The board has authorized eight new full-time positions for collective bargaining support, according to an April 20 staff report. All of the positions and $300,000 in recurring contractual costs to support and administer a bargaining structure are fully funded in the fiscal 2022 budget.
On Wednesday, the board deferred taking up the draft ordinance until a future meeting.
SEIU Virginia 512, which represents Loudoun County general employees, includes nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, librarians, parks staff, maintenance workers, engineers.
6-3 debate:In addition to drafting an ordinance, the board also voted 6-3 to include in the draft ordinance a provision that certification of a labor union as the exclusive bargaining representative of a bargaining unit requires the majority (50% plus one eligible employee) of employees in such unit to vote in an election.
Supervisors Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) and Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin) said they wished the board would instead require the majority of the bargaining union members to be able to vote on a final agreement, rather than union representatives deciding for the majority.
What they are saying:Julius Reynolds, chair of the Loudoun SEIU Virginia 512: “After months of hard work and negotiations with the county, we have an ordinance draft. I believe that we will win and win big for all county workers because all county workers deserve it. All workers deserve respect, dignity, and a voice in the workplace.”
Michelle Thomas, pastor of Holy and Whole Life Changing Ministries International: “We’re asking for the county to put in writing that which they say they mean — that every life is important, that every person deserves dignity, that every family deserves what they need and every worker should be given the human dignity of being able to earn a fair wage, have health insurance and get their teeth done.”
Doris Crouse-Mays, president of Virginia AFL-CIO: “Collective Bargaining allows frontline workers and employees to have a seat at the table. And you know what they say: ‘if you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu’, and we’ve been on the menu long enough. It is time that we have the ability to bargain for good jobs that improve recruitment, retention, and improve the services that you provide for the community.”
Patti Nelson, past chair of the Loudoun SEIU Virginia 512: “This has been a long time coming and now we have a board who shares our values for healthy families, and good services, and increasing our staffing rate so that we can provide the work that we are called to provide for the least among us, and every other citizen of Loudoun County.”
David Broder, president of SEIU Virginia 512: “We know this Board of Supervisors wants to support workers. We know that they want to do right by the workers that they have called essential. And so, we will be back on November 10 — to show up, to show them that workers, that their community supports this fundamental human right.”
What’s next:The Board of Supervisors deferred the public hearing to a future public hearing.
Glen Barbour, public affairs and communications officer for Loudoun County, told the Times-Mirror that staff intends on having the proposed ordinance ready for the November 10 public hearing.