City of Charlottesville public sector employees are now the first in the area to earn the right to collectively bargain.
In a unanimous vote Oct. 10, the City Council passed a collective bargaining ordinance for its public workers.
Area school unions are still in their collective bargaining negotiations. Charlottesville City Schools and Albemarle County Public Schools have not reached agreement with the teacher unions on a resolution.
Albemarle County public workers have yet to begin the process. No public workers have submitted a proposal for collective bargaining, according to Emily Kilroy, spokeswoman for Albemarle County.
The latest version of Charlottesville’s ordinance was presented in September and has undergone 30 changes. The collective bargaining proposal was first introduced in October 2021.
More about collective bargaining
“Thank you to those who stuck with us to come up with something reasonable,” said Mayor Lloyd Snook.
One of the biggest amendments was to include labor, trade, administrative and professional workers in the union. Previously, the ordinance only included transit, firefighters and police.
The new ordinance allows city workers to bargain items such as wages, employment terms, and hours, along with insurance deductibles and payments.
The revised ordinance also offers additional protections for employee organizations to assemble and bargain amongst themselves and with the city.
The city worked with Venable LLP, a national law firm, and city workers to create the amended ordinance.
In 2020, Virginia General Assembly passed legislation allowing for public entities — cities, counties, school systems and towns — to participate in collective bargaining with unions upon adopting an agreement proposed by a union.
The law went into effect in May 2021.
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More about collective bargaining
Charlottesville education union petitions School Board for the right to engage in collective bargaining
The School Board now has until August to decide if it will allow the new union to operate.
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On Monday, local chapters of the Virginia Education Association, which is a union of teachers and school staff, held a demonstration downtown in support of allowing school and other public employees to engage in collective bargaining. The state recently lifted the ban on such collective bargaining that had been in place for decades.
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“I think the fact that it was sticky and complicated and difficult makes it even sweeter. We had to work really hard for it and it feels really good,” said Jessica Taylor, president of the Charlottesville Education Association.
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