Essential Loudoun County Workers and Community Members Testify At Public Hearing, Call on Board to Pass Strong Collective Bargaining Rights
Loudoun, Va. - This evening, essential Loudoun County workers in SEIU Virginia 512 packed the Loudoun County Government Board Room, creating a sea of purple in support of their fellow union members testifying before the Board of Supervisors. During the public hearing portion of the meeting, there was unanimous community support for collective bargaining.
For decades, public workers in Loudoun and throughout the Commonwealth have been left behind, barred from joining together to bargain for a better future. The inability to bargain with their employers for things like higher wages, benefits and working conditions has held back working families, and workers are uniting to demand that Loudoun County reverse course. After years of tireless organizing and advocacy, and the end to the 44-year ban on public sector collective bargaining in Virginia, Loudoun workers are on the cusp of joining tens of millions of employees in 47 states who already have collective bargaining rights.
On October 19th, 2021, SEIU Virginia 512 members in Fairfax County won the strongest collective bargaining ordinance in Virginia thus far, covering more than 11,000 workers. Now, Loudoun County union members and community supporters are pushing for a victory of their own. When passed, a collective bargaining ordinance would cover around 2,400 essential Loudoun County workers. Tonight, county workers and allies (New Virginia Majority, CASA, The Commonwealth Institute, IBEW Local 26, UNITE HERE 25) testified and urged the Board of Supervisors to prioritize the following changes before passing a final ordinance in a matter of weeks:
(1) Empower workers to bargain over the full range of wages, benefits, and working conditions so employees can keep themselves, their families and the community healthy and safe;
(2) Allow workers to communicate and meet freely to discuss union matters without fear of retaliation;
(3) Cover ALL workers -- the ordinance must not divide workers.
Without these changes, the collective bargaining rights provided by the ordinance cannot be considered meaningful.
Julius Reynolds, a Loudoun County employee for 20+ years and Loudoun Chapter Chair of SEIU Virginia 512, opened up the set of union testimonies: “We strongly urge you to create one unit for general county employees, to provide for the selection of a neutral Labor Relations Administrator, and to support binding arbitration to resolve impasses in negotiations. Without these changes, this ordinance will not allow workers to bargain for good jobs and great public services for the community, which is our goal. Loudoun can truly be a leader for all working families in the Commonwealth, if we get this right.”
Veronica Martinez, a Loudoun County employee of 16 years in the Department of Family Services, testified: “At times, my daughter’s school system has been forced to go virtual due to staffing shortages. Her aftercare center closed permanently. Due to county policy, I had to choose to leave my autistic daughter home alone or take leave to be with her. COVID has changed our lives and impacted our jobs. The County has struggled to keep up. My experience highlights why we need the right to bargain over the full range of wages, benefits, and working conditions such as the impact of emergencies like COVID, paid leave, tele-work, and support with childcare.”
Lucy Beadnell, Director of Advocacy at the Arc of Northern Virginia wrote this statement of support: "Every single day, Loudoun residents with developmental disabilities rely on essential public services that come through Loudoun County employees, like case management, childcare, educational support, and healthcare. We need these workers to live A Life Like Yours in the community, and we know they need meaningful collective bargaining rights. They are deserving of safe working conditions, fair treatment, and careers where they feel as valued as they truly are by the disability community."
Christian Martinez Lemus, Advocacy Specialist at CASA, testified: “CASA supports the changes recommended by our union family. Collective bargaining will benefit the community because it allows workers to negotiate for good jobs and excellent public services. CASA and community members benefit from these services."
SEIU Virginia 512 represents Loudoun County general employees, including nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, librarians, parks staff, maintenance workers, engineers, and more. We are dedicated to delivering quality public services, and fighting for good jobs, for all people. Now more than ever, we believe that all working people deserve recognition for their work on the front line and a real seat at the table. We urge the Board of Supervisors to pass a meaningful collective bargaining ordinance that benefits everyone in our community.