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.

Dozens of parents, students, and educators gather at the Freedom of Speech wall on Dec. 6 to advocate for public school teachers rights to collective bargaining. The rally is in response to the Virginia School Board Association holding a “Collective Bargaining Workshop” in town on Dec. 7.
Educators from Charlottesville and Albemarle County rally at the Downtown Mall in support of collective bargaining on Dec. 6, 2021. Credit: Mike Kropf/Charlottesville Tomorrow
Participants were encouraged to wear red, which stems from the school funding hashtag and movement #RedForEd.
President of the Charlottesville Education Association, Jessica Taylor, asks for some crowd participation by saying, “If you feel so inclined, raise your hand if you have bought supplies for school because your classroom budget ran out,” which was met with laughter, clapping, and many raised hands.
Participants in the rally hold signs, clap, and cheer as organizers speak to the crowd.
CEA member and health and physical education teacher at Burnley-Moran Elementary School, Ernest Chambers, speaks to the crowd. “As a P.E. teach and coach … I’ve heard them say, ‘team work makes the dream work.’ Well my dream is that we, as members of this union, have an equitable salary so that we can live in the locales that we teach, not have to live 30, 40, 50, an hour away because we cannot afford to live here where we teach.”
As the evening goes on, the crowd listens to multiple speakers, clapping and cheering in response.
“I am not here to sell you on a utopian vision of what it’s like to have collective bargaining … but I can tell you, it can be better,” says Tim Klobuchar, an English teacher at Monticello High School.
Del. Sally Hudson, D-Charlottesville, says, “We are about to inaugurate a candidate who has styled himself as the ‘education governor’ and we’re gonna need help holding him to it. We’re gonna need the voices of all of our teachers and all of our staff and all of our administrators to make sure that we deliver on those promises, that we don’t have half measures. Because the truth is, and I think we all know, that Richmond has not been making the grade when it comes to supporting our public schools.”
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Mike Kropf

Mike Kropf is a photographer with work printed in various publications in central Virginia. Previously, he was the staff photographer for Longwood University and a photographer for the Washington Football Team.