Sunday, March 8, 2020

Victory! We have a collective bargaining bill!

Today is a historic one, as just a few hours ago the General Assembly passed its bill permitting collective bargaining for school employees (and many other public employees).

This is a tremendous win for students, for schools, for education employees, and for communities.

Some of you reading this may be aware (but most of you probably are not) that when the Va. Supreme Court in 1977 struck down negotiated agreements between school boards and educators in about a dozen Virginia localities, those agreements were in force covering about one-third of all Virginia teachers.

Today we celebrate! Read our news release summarizing what we've won and what it means. One analyst calls this win "the most significant change in Virginia labor law in decades."

But there is much hard work ahead. For your Local Union to win collective bargaining, you will have to organize employees to become members, and you will also have to push your local school board to pass a resolution to initiate the process.

To be ready, you must:
1. Build your membership. You will need to have at least 30% of the potential members in your district and you will need 51% of the potential members to force a vote.
2. Build strong working relationships with your School Board and local governing body (Board of Supervisors or City Council). They will likely decide how collective bargaining works in your school division. We need to be talking with them and answering their questions about the process. There is a lot of work to do here.
3. Take a good look at the elections in your locality this November. Do you have school board or local government elections? If you do, what will your local be doing to determine the candidate who will support collective bargaining at the local level. How will you help support their election?

Remember, a bill won’t make collective bargaining happen, only your action will. The VEA and NEA are knee deep in planning and resource development for all our members. Expect to hear from us frequently about our plans and support.

I will post in a few days with more reflections on the bill and the path it took and what it means.

But for today, let’s celebrate this win and the huge shift we have seen in Virginia!