Editor: Recently, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors committed to meaningful collective bargaining for its essential workforce by delaying the final vote on an ordinance.
This decision allows time for county electeds, staff, and essential workers to develop a more comprehensive set of rights that ensures great jobs for Loudoun employees and even stronger public services for the community. Loudoun county employees are coming together in our union, SEIU Virginia 512, to win a real voice on the job and the right to improve working conditions and services. To achieve this, we need to pass a meaningful collective bargaining ordinance in June that truly protects Loudoun’s county’s essential workers and doesn’t just maintain the status quo.
Since 2004, I have worked in the Department of Family Services. Every day, I support familiesnavigating the various systems of our department, whether it is Child Protective Services, Foster Care, Housing or Benefits.The work isn’t easy—I witness horrible, abusive situations. I facilitate difficult meetings and I support families in their most challenging moments.
With 40 years of work experience across two counties in Northern Virginia, much of it as a program manager, I’ve seen what happens when we overwork, underpay, and unfairly reprimand workers. Meaningful collective bargaining is the only real way to support employees. It’s long overdue. As a tax-paying resident of Loudoun, I know that collective bargaining means strengthening the services and resources that directly benefit us—the community, the residents.
Giving county employees a say in the decisions that affect their daily lives is important for all county residents. There are two sides to every issue.Understanding the employee’s perspective is an important part of the discussion concerning workplace issues.Those that argue against the idea of collective bargaining won’t tell you about the talented employees that are lost because of poor management. They won’t tell you about the drain of experienced staff who cannot live in the county because they don’t get paid enough or the fact that they leave to go to a neighboring county that pays a far better wage for the same job. They won’t tell you about situations where staff are afraid to speak up about unjust conditions.
Loudoun County has some of the most amazing, dedicated workers. We love our jobs despite how hard they can be. We are always there for our clients, even when our own needs are not getting met.
It’s clear that the board wants to do right by its essential workforce and make our community a wonderful place for all families. I appreciate that the board is working with us, the members of SEIU Virginia 512, and IAFF 3756, to make this happen. County workers need a strong voice to bargain over our wages, benefits, and working conditions. If Loudoun County truly wants to support, respect and protect its employees, then they must not settle for anything less than meaningful collective bargaining rights.
Together we can make Loudoun a leader for working families in this commonwealth.
Chris Volz, Sterling