10 things Prince William families need to know about collective bargaining
County supervisors’ decision on collective bargaining will have a major impact on taxes and public safety.
Sometime before the end of January 2022, Prince William County supervisors will have to decide if they will allow collective bargaining for police and fire employees in the county – giving government unions a monopoly on worker representation.
The vote could also lead to collective bargaining for other government unions in Prince William.
Local officials, public employees and residents have a right to know what collective bargaining really means for their community, tax bills and public safety.
Here’s what they should know before this monumental vote:
- Taxpayers will be on the hook up to $2 million in higher administrative costs, without more service, increased wages or better benefits for employees
A collective bargaining ordinance for all the county’s employees would cost an estimated $2 million per year in attorneys, payroll and more human resources employees, according to the Prince William Times. That estimate is in line with other Virginia local governments, which 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 public employees raises, better equipment and training, or other services for the families of Prince William.
Taxpayer resources should be directed to where they are needed, rather than imposing another layer of bureaucracy.
- It could impede volunteer firefighters.
The Prince William Professional Firefighters association is the local chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters, or IAFF. IAFF is explicit in its constitution and bylaws that its members cannot volunteer as fire fighters if volunteering “is within the work jurisdiction of any affiliate or which adversely impacts the interests of any affiliate or the IAFF.” In the past, the union has worked to expel its members that volunteer as firefighters.
- It would allow government unions to come between public employees and the county.
Collective bargaining agreements are one size fits all contracts that allow unions to dictate terms for all workers 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 are already government unions in Prince William, but they don’t have a monopoly on representing all employees. Allowing these unions to bargain would subject all public employees to one size fits all government union contracts.
- Unions are very 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 Prince William County or its public employees.
Just this year the national IAFF voted to censure Prince William County Neabsco District Supervisor Victor Angry. Government unions also lobby heavily for tax increases.
- 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, Prince William will further harm workplace harmony and cause friction between public employees and public employers.
- There are almost no limits to what government unions could bargain over.
The state law that allows Prince William to permit government union collective bargaining puts almost no limits on what unions could bargain over. Ordinances passed or proposed in Prince William’s neighbors have allowed government unions complete negotiating power over wages, benefits and many other issues.
- Collective bargaining could jeopardize public employee privacy.
Ordinances passed or proposed in Prince William’s neighbors have allowed government unions to obtain home addresses, personal cell phones and other non-work contact information of public employees – often without their consent.
- Collective bargaining could trap public employees into paying union dues and into their union.
Ordinances passed or proposed in Prince William’s neighbors grant government unions the ability to trap public employees into paying dues for up to a year if they sign a dues authorization card, while also making 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.
- Public employees could be forced to sit though union sales pitches.
Ordinances passed or proposed in Prince William’s neighboring governments require public employees to attend mandatory union orientations – potentially on taxpayer-funded time, depending on the final collective bargaining agreement.
- Prince William taxpayers could be forced to pay for union work.
The county could be required to pay public employees to do union work while receiving their taxpayer-funded salary. Ordinances passed or proposed in Prince William’s neighbors allow unions to bargain over having taxpayers fund union work instead of doing their job.