A campaign by the fairfax county federation of teachers
Our Situation - VA elected officials vote to support collective bargaining
Big news! Governor Northam approved a historic bill overturning the state’s blanket ban on public sector collective bargaining, but inserted an unnecessary amendment delaying its implementation for a year. The bill will allow school boards and local governments to engage in collective bargaining with their employees. The governor’s action may delay that outcome, but it will not stop our progress toward equity and fairness. Read our full statement here. In Fairfax County, the School Board and Board of Supervisors have announced their support for collective bargaining too.
Virginia has been one of only three states in the country that explicitly bans public service workers like teachers, firefighters, and nurses from the right to negotiate for fair wages and safe working conditions. With the passage of this bill, educators in Fairfax County will be able to now engage in collective bargaining if the locality agrees.
This ban is being overturned because of FCFT members! Throughout the legislative session members emailed and called their legislators, lobbied, testified, spoke to media and submitted letters to the editor and opinion pieces to news outlets in support of this bill.
What is Collective Bargaining?
Collective Bargaining is the process in which workers and employers sit at the negotiating table to come up with a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"), a contract that is agreed upon by both sides and covers all workers in the specified bargaining unit(s). What this means is that we will have a collective bargaining election to make FCFT the exclusive bargaining representative for educational employees in Fairfax County.
Collective Bargaining is an additional tool for our union to get the things that FCPS employees need. Through our union, we’ll be able to negotiate a contract with our employer to determine our terms of employment, which could include pay, benefits, hours, leave, job health and safety policies, ways to balance work and family, planning time, class sizes and more. This will be a game changer for our union and will be a way to solve workplace problems.
What Does This Mean for Us?
The legislature approved, and the legislation will become law on May 1, 2021. Now the county needs to set up a process to have a collective bargaining election. The union that wins a majority in that election will become the exclusive bargaining representative in the county. If no union wins a majority, then no union will receive the bargaining rights. The option to state "No Union" will be on the ballot, so it's important we win!
FCFT will call for a collective bargaining election when we know we have the support of FCPS employees and are in a position to win. We are organizing members and building our union strength at schools across the county.
Through our union, educators will have a seat at the table to bargain for the resources our students and educators need. Educator working conditions are student learning conditions and with collective bargaining, you’ll have a voice at work to negotiate for better working conditions for you, your students and our entire community.
So What's Next?
We’ll all need to work together to ensure that our union is ready to seize this historic opportunity and win a union election. This means that we’ll need to strengthen our union and increase our membership. We’ll need all members to help build our union. Email us to get involved today at firstname.lastname@example.org!
While this bill is a significant step forward, it was changed significantly from its original version. The bill does not grant state and higher education workers collective bargaining rights. Moving forward, we’ll do everything in our power to make sure these rights are extended to all workers in all sectors so that all of Virginia’s workers—regardless of where they work—have a voice on the job.
The support for collective bargaining by our elected officials proves that elections matters. In November 2019, a string of pro-educator candidates won their elections at the state and local level. Nearly every FCFT endorsed candidate won their election for School Board, Board of Supervisors and the state legislature. When we elect lawmakers who share our values and who believe in uplifting workers, we get the legislation that gives people a hand up and a path to the middle class.