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Are You a Virginia Public Employee? Here’s What You Need to Know

Virginia public employees have a decision to make. Soon, you’ll be getting lots of contact from union leaders because now, unions have the ability to negotiate contracts directly with employers. When the unions come calling, there are some things you should consider. You’ll be able to ask them questions, and vote, before they have collective bargaining approval. Below are a list of questions that you can pose to union officials and other resources to guide you.

  • How will my workday change if you write strict rules regarding our working conditions into a collective bargaining agreement?
  • Will we get to vote on how the union spends money on politics, including lobbying and electoral efforts? 
  • Will I be able to speak to my supervisor privately about concerns I have in my workplace, or will a union representative have to be there?
  • What if I don’t like something the union is doing? Will my right to speak up be protected?
  • Who decides who sits at the table during negotiations?
  • Will union negotiations lead to job cuts or tax increases?
  • What is voting like within the union? Will I have the power to vote directly for union leadership at the local, state, and national level?
  • Does every public employee have to participate in the union if we vote to unionize?
  • Will you try to influence local, state or national elections? Will you try to influence how I vote?
  • How will you promote the professionalism of employees publicly and behind closed doors?
  • Will the union ever ask us to strike or engage in “work to rule” activities?
  • If the union does call for a strike or other work stoppages, can I refuse to participate?
  • What happens to my pay, benefits, and job security if the union calls for an illegal strike or work stoppage?
  • Can the union refuse to process or refuse to represent a complaint or grievance on behalf of a member or non-member?
  • If I choose not to join the union, does the union still get to represent me in collective bargaining and with my supervisor?
  • Will you provide me with a copy of the union by-laws?
  • If we unionize and then decide a union is not for us, what does it take to decertify?
  • If we decide to replace one union with another, what is the process?
  • Once a union is in place, will I get to vote again on whether or not I want union representation to continue?
  • Has your union ever fined a member? If so, for what and how much?
  • Has your union experienced any unfair labor law claims from existing members?
  • Are union dues based on my income, or do we all pay the same dues?
  • Will full and part-time employees be covered under the same agreement? How will differences in needs be accounted for?
  • If there is a recession or the need for cuts, will the union negotiate for pay or benefit cuts so employees don’t have to lose their jobs?

Additional Resources

To help you better understand the changes and the impact they could have on public employees, we’ve provided these legal resources for your reference. 

Legal Letter Regarding Localities

Legal Letter_How VA’s Unionization Law Could Affect Government Employees

If you’re a Virginia public employee with questions about what these changes could mean for you, please reach out.
We are here to help!

Wondering what could make a public employee decide not to join their union? Jason Plank, an AFFT member, shares his experience.

Americans for Fair Treatment

Americans for Fair Treatment is a free, membership, non-profit organization designed to help public sector workers exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of coercion from unions.