As the City of Virginia Beach prepares for an important election, especially given the newly drawn city council districts to account for historical racial disenfranchisement, city workers, faith leaders, community and labor allies spoke out at an educational rally on Saturday, September 17 about why collective bargaining is an important aspect of democracy.
Every day, tens of thousands of blue-collar public sector workers help our Virginia communities have clean drinking water, dispose of our trash, keep sewage and stormwater from overflowing, keep our parks and beaches beautiful, care for those who need special mental and medical care, and more. Now these city workers are asking for a voice in their democracy on the job every day via collective bargaining.
Virginia Beach City Worker Union, UE Local 111 leaders Terry Green, who works in Water Distribution, and Pat Thebert, who works as a nurse in Human Services, co-chaired the rally.
“Our powers united, we can win a new majority on the Virginia Beach City Council that supports fairness, dignity, living wages, and a voice at the table for city workers through our union. The city has a chance to make history with this election,” stated Terry Green, Water Distribution, and Chairperson of the Virginia Beach City Workers Union, UE Local 111
Pat Thebert, in her opening remarks stated that, ” Women, who make up the majority of local government workers (especially in Virginia), would also particularly benefit from collective bargaining. This is important because past discrimination and ongoing barriers mean Black workers, Latinx workers, and women of all races are still typically paid less than white men with the same level of education and experience in both public- and private-sector employment.”
The Virginia Beach City Workers Union, UE Local 111 has officially endorsed the following candidates because we believe they will support us in the passage of a resolution for collective bargaining once elected:
District 1 – Melissa Peck
District 2 – Paul Telkamp
District 6 – Worth Remick
District 8 – John Andrews
District 9 – Joash Schulman
District 10 – Jennifer Rouse
In May 2021, the Virginia state law changed allowing, for the first time in history, for local government employees to collectively bargain a union contract with city, state and local school boards. However, the local governments must first pass a resolution allowing for this process to begin.
“This upcoming municipal election will be critical to correct the historical racial injustices in this city. Supporting city workers’ right to collective bargaining is an essential part of that reckoning,” Minister Gary McCollum, Due the Right Things.
The rally on September 17 will encourage community members to support candidates that support collective bargaining when they vote! Early voting in Virginia starts September 23. Election day is November 8.
Members of the Virginia Beach Educators Association (affiliate of the National Association of Educators) attended including their local and statewide presidents, as they too are also fighting for collective bargaining with the local school board.
UE Local 111 members vowed to help canvass at the polls, knock on doors, speak at churches and distribute yard signs to help get their endorsed candidates into office.
UE International Representative
Virginia Beach City Workers Union
Workers Rights are Human Rights, Organize the South!