The VEA is working to win collective bargaining for public education employees in this year’s General Assembly. With the dawn of a new era in Virginia political leadership, school and other public employees have the best hope in decades of regaining the right to bargain their contracts, and the Union is part of a coalition leading the charge to make it happen.
Collective bargaining for educators is good for everyone, says VEA President Jim Livingston, who points to three important facts to back that up:
Negotiations ensure that educators’ unique perspectives and input are brought to the table. “We’re the ones in the schools and we see what’s going on with instruction every day,” Livingston says. Before collective bargaining for public employees was banned in Virginia, local associations had bargained such student-centric items as additional reading, art, and music teachers; the setting of school calendars; fairer discipline policies; and more.
“In states across the country where school employees bargain their contracts,” he says, “topics across the board are addressed. we’ve seen improvements in class sizes, resources available for students, and safety issues all made possible through negotiation.”
Bargained contracts help recruit and retain top-notch educators. It’s no secret that inadequate pay and reduced benefits lead to increased turnover, and increased turnover isn’t good for students. “A negotiated contract is the best method we have of making sure that teachers and other educators are paid the kind of professional salary they deserve,” says Livingston.
Collective bargaining offers a way to meet local school challenges. Turnover isn’t just about pay—it’s also (and sometimes even more so) about working conditions. “Poor working conditions, which are also poor student learning conditions, are an enormous reason so many good teachers choose to leave the profession,” says Livingston. “In collective bargaining, they would have a meaningful voice in identifying and solving problems.”
Learn more in ‘Frequently Asked Questions,’ below.