Charlottesville firefighters are seeking formal recognition as a union from the City of Charlottesville under new authority granted by a 2020 law that allows localities to form collective bargaining agreements.
According to The Daily Progress, Charlottesville Professional Firefighters Association President Greg Wright wrote in an email to the City Council, “I humbly ask that you, and all the members of Council support this Amendment. Empowering ALL City employees to participate in traditional collective bargaining is something that I hope you consider as important as we do.”
The legislation, passed in the 2020 General Assembly, went into effect May 1. In March 2020, a Kollman and Saucier, P.A. legislative update said, “Virginia has long had a statutory prohibition on collective bargaining for state and local employees, making it one of only three states in the country to have such a bar (the others are North and South Carolina).”
Other localities in Virginia are also making decisions about collective bargaining. Alexandria has already passed an ordinance allowing collective bargaining. Loudoun County officials are considering three options: a ban on collective bargaining, a non-formal, non-binding meet-and-greet format, or a traditional union-style format. Loudoun and Alexandria both found that collective bargaining would potentially be expensive.
Opponents on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors worried that collective-bargaining agreements could inject potentially fractious union relationships into the county’s relationship with its employees. But proponents argued that the agreement would empower workers and government employers to communicate more effectively with each other.
Charlottesville officials have been discussing the issue unofficially, according to emails obtained by The Daily Progress.
But Councilor Lloyd Snook told The Virginia Star that the Council needs more time to consider the issue.
“We haven’t had a chance to talk about it yet,” Snook said. “We have had a lot of upheaval here — new City Attorney, new City Manager, new Fire Chief. And it’s brand new for all of us. We’ve got to turn to it soon.”
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