The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday delayed for a second time their consideration of a new ordinance that would permit the county to engage in collective bargaining discussions with labor membership groups and public employee associations.
The board now plans to take up the ordinance on June 15, Vice Chairman Koran Saines (D-Sterling) told the Times-Mirror. A number of board members said they’ve met with labor group representatives since the May 18 delay.
The ordinance would allow county employees, such as firefighters, maintenance workers, mental health nurses and librarians to enter into collective bargaining with the county.
Loudoun County Chapter SEIU Virginia 512, a labor group, is representing county employees.
On April 20, the board voted 6-3 to move forward with the matter. Supervisors Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin), Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) and Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) voted against the motion.
As of May 1, Virginia counties, cities and towns are 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 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.
Should the board vote not to adopt a local ordinance or resolution authorizing collective bargaining, those resources could be reallocated to other uses.
The traditional collective bargaining model, which the board voted upon, would require the highest level of support costs, including all of the resources allocated in the fiscal 2022 budget, and the potential for additional staffing and/or operating support costs necessary in future years.
Four additional full-time positions are estimated to be needed in fiscal 2023, according to the April 20 staff report.
In April, Letourneau questioned what else is left for the board to address with a new ordinance. He said the board has already addressed employee pay increases, benefits and the classification system without a collective bargaining agreement.
Buffington and Kershner — both of whom said they prefer the meet-and-confer model — were concerned about the potential controversies and drawbacks that could arise from a collective bargaining agreement.
Sixty eight percent of Virginia voters said they support allowing collective bargaining rights for public employees, according to a Dec. 10, 2020 study by The Wason Center at Christopher Newport University. Twenty five percent said they oppose it.
SEIU said it supports the board’s effort, but urged supervisors to reject the three ordinance proposals that deny workers the right to collectively bargain over wages, benefits, and working conditions.
Instead, SEIU said it is urging the board to pass an ordinance that protects workers’ rights and facilitates productive relationships between county employees and management.