10 things Albemarle families need to know about collective bargaining
Negative press is rocking teacher unions across the Virginia.
The National Education Association is taking over the Arlington Education Association due to internal battles and allegations of systemic problems at the union, including their finances being in disarray. The Prince William Education Association is unable or unwilling to produce signed union cards to force the school board to vote on a collective bargaining ordinance, despite claiming a majority of school employees have asked for a vote.
Now, the focus is on Albemarle County where the school board will choose whether to allow a union to have monopoly control and represent school employees in the district.
The school board’s decision on collective bargaining will have a major impact on school employees, children and the district.
The school board, employees and parents have a right to know what collective bargaining really means for their schools and taxes.
Here’s what they need to know before the vote:
1. Instead of money going to higher teacher pay and benefits, taxpayers will be on the hook for increased administrative costs.
Collective bargaining for school employees would increase district costs for attorneys, payroll and more human resources employees. Other local governments in Virginia are also warning of massive new costs just to administer collective bargaining.
This is money will go toward attorneys and bureaucrats to administer the process of collective bargaining – money that could be better spent on giving school employees raises, more benefits or increased school services that will help teachers and the families of Albemarle schools.
2. It would allow government unions to come between school employees, schools and children.
Collective bargaining agreements are one-size-fits-all contracts that allow unions to dictate terms for all employees that the contract covers. This includes workers who are not members of the union and do not want to be under a union contract.
There is already a government union in Albemarle schools, but it don’t have a monopoly on representing employees. Allowing this unions to bargain would subject all employees to one-size-fits-all government union contracts.
3. Unions are engaged in partisan politics.
Unions (both private and government) spent $1.8 billion on politics during the 2020 election. Much of the spending may not represent the values of Albemarle or its school employees.
The union in Albemarle is affiliated with the very partisan National Education Association, an organization that advocates for and supports issues that have nothing to do with education and which many Albemarle school employees may disagree with.
4. Collective bargaining is an adversarial process.
By its nature, the process of collective bargaining is combative. It is a process where each side tries to extract as much as it can from the other. By injecting this adversarial process into law, the Albemarle school board will further harm workplace harmony and cause friction between school employees and the district and parents.
5. There are almost no limits to what the unions could bargain over.
The state law that allows Albemarle schools to permit government union collective bargaining puts almost no limits on what unions could bargain over. Ordinances in Northern Virginia and Richmond have allowed government unions complete negotiating power over wages, benefits and many other issues.
6. Collective bargaining could jeopardize school employee privacy.
Ordinances in Northern Virginia and Richmond have allowed government unions to obtain home addresses, personal cell phone numbers and other non-work contact information of employees – often without their consent.
7. Collective bargaining could trap school employees into paying union dues and into their union.
Ordinances in Northern Virginia and Richmond grant government unions the ability to trap employees into paying dues for up to a year if they sign a dues authorization card. At the same time, these ordinances make it much easier to bring a union into a workplace than to remove one once it is established – even if the union is not serving its members well.
8. School employees could be forced to sit though union sales pitches.
Ordinances in Northern Virginia and Richmond require employees to attend mandatory union orientations – potentially on taxpayer-funded time, depending on the final collective bargaining agreement.
9. Albemarle taxpayers could be forced to pay for union work.
The county could be required to pay school employees to do union work while receiving their taxpayer-funded salary. Ordinances in Northern Virginia and Richmond allow unions to bargain over having taxpayers fund union work instead of doing their job.
10. Taxpayer resources should be directed to where they are needed, rather than imposing another layer of bureaucracy.
In August 2021, Portsmouth rejected a proposal to allow government union collective bargaining in their city. Citing increased costs, Council Member Lisa Lucas-Burke said, “After hearing the information from our CFO regarding the financial cost that would be associated, I think that until we get more information and more funding to be able to carry this out it’s going to be pretty difficult for us to carry that through.”
Portsmouth Chief Financial Officer Mimi Terry said in a July 27 public work session that costs for the city could add up to “$2 million off the top annually” a figure which likely does not include pay increases or better benefits for city employees.