Loudoun supervisors have deferred a vote on what the county’s collective bargaining ordinance will look like until their meeting June 1, in a move cheered by the Service Employees International Union Virginia 512.
“The only reason that item was deferred was writing a meaningful ordinance is a heavy lift, and both the SEIU, the IAFF [International Association of Fire Fighters] and staff have been hard at work on this,” Loudoun Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said at the Board of Supervisors meeting May 18. “…It just wasn’t ready for prime time yet. We just moved it to the next meeting just to make sure when we do move it to the dais, although we will have some points to vote on, we want it to be as clean and clear as possible.”
The item prepared for supervisors’ May 18 meeting outlined a number of decisions they will have to make—such as what is up for negotiation for employee unions. The draft ordinance before supervisors would require good-faith negotiations on a broad set of topics, including wages, benefits, hours, working conditions, and resolving employee grievances including disciplinary actions at the level of a suspension or higher.
Supervisors must decide a number of other things, such as whether to require a petition from employees before recognizing unions, whether to allow employees to opt in or opt out of sharing their contact information with unions, and whether to restrict union activity during union hours.
The draft ordinance also provides for a Labor Relations Administrator to serve as a neutral third party, appointed by the County Administrator and confirmed by supervisors, for a four-year term.
The delay was cheered by the SEIU Virginia 512, a union representing hundreds of Loudoun public employees.
“I would like to thank Chair Randall for her support in bringing meaningful collective bargaining to Loudoun County,” said Julius Reynolds, Chair of the Loudoun County Chapter of SEIU Virginia 512 and a county employee for more than 20 years. “Your leadership will change the lives of essential workers in our community for the better. Meaningful collective bargaining is good for our workforce, good for residents, and will ensure that Loudoun is a great place for everyone.”
A press release from the SEIU urged supervisors “to settle for nothing but real and meaningful collective bargaining that provides employees the right to bargain over pay, benefits, and working conditions. The essential workforce deserves the same comprehensive rights that protect tens of millions of workers across the United States.”
Loudoun’s anticipated collective bargaining ordinance stands to be one of the first in the state. The first was passed by the City of Alexandria on April 17. The Leesburg Town Council followed suit on April 27.
The new state law enabling union negotiations went into effect May 1. Collective bargaining has enjoyed support from the Democratic majority on the Board of Supervisors, with supervisors voting 6-3 in April to move ahead with writing an ordinance in a step toward final approval. They have also worked to strengthen that ordinance in favor of unions from the example ordinance presented that night.