Virginia AFL-CIO Statement on Delay of Collective Bargaining Law
RICHMOND -- Doris Crouse-Mays, president of the Virginia AFL-CIO, today released the following statement in response to Governor Northam’s decision to delay the effective date of legislation that would allow localities to opt-in to collective bargaining agreements with their employees:
“Virginia’s public service workers, many of whom are on the front lines of this pandemic, today realized the sting of empty campaign jargon from 2017. Virginia is ranked last in the nation for workers, and the governor’s decision to postpone the effective date of this legislation, along with the delay in the minimum wage increase, reinforces that record.
“The primary purpose of a labor union is to act as a bargaining unit. Unions level the playing field so that workers can get a voice and seat at the table when negotiating a contract. You cannot support workers if you do not believe all workers should have the right to form a union, and you cannot support unions if you do not believe that unions should have the ability to collectively bargain. Furthermore, this legislation was permissive. Nothing in the collective bargaining bill would have required a locality to participate, which makes its delay all the more nonsensical and cruel.
“Virginia’s minimum wage and public sector workers alike are serving on the front lines of this pandemic, yet today grocery store employees -- who are literally dying for their jobs -- were told their sacrifices did not merit a paycheck they could live on. Today firefighters who transported COVID-19 patients were told that they still would have to wait to have a voice on the job. And today custodians -- who for weeks after schools closed kept their facilities clean and their students fed -- were told that they are still the ‘expendable bottom rung.’ That is the message the governor sent today.
“Virginia’s doctors and nurses have resorted to begging the governor for personal protective gear. Neither they nor any of Virginia’s frontline workers should have to resort to such desperate pleas. United we bargain, divided we beg -- and begging is exactly what delaying this legislation will ensure. We now face the prospect of another legislative session in which the governor can ask for another delay under the guise of needing more time to let the economy recover. But the economy will not recover without the workers who make it run, and our workers will not recover without a government that works for them.
“The anti-worker forces who saw opportunity in tragedy have secured yet another victory. They will be back next year where they will undoubtedly attempt to win more. I vow to the thousands of people we represent that we will keep fighting until no worker is left behind. I thank all who have joined us in that fight, especially Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, Senator Jennifer Boysko, and Delegate Paul Krizek. You are true champions of the working class.”