Fairfax County workers now have collective bargaining powers thanks to an ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The ordinance passed the Democrat-controlled board 9-1, with the sole opposing vote coming from Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, a Republican.
The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation last year that allowed for counties, cities and towns to adopt collective bargaining ordinances.
Chairman Jeff McKay, a Democrat, said collective bargaining “helps us hold on to talent.”
“From a taxpayer standpoint, every single individual who walks out of this county who’s been trained and employed by Fairfax County has a taxpayer investment on them. And that taxpayer investment walks out the door if we lose our ability to retain our good employees, because we’re not competitive with the marketplace,” McKay said.
He added that the ordinance shows the county is investing in public services and its employees: “It’s a day that our county employees should rest assured that ... board members don’t have to say they support county employees, they can actually show it.”
Herrity said collective bargaining would hamper the county’s ability to be flexible, “and offer things like signing bonuses where we need to, and offer things like employee referral bonuses, because it’s going to restrict us to collective bargaining.”
He added that he had “big issues” with the ordinance and cited arbitration.
“I’m going to remind you when this goes to arbitration, and costs our residents dearly. I’m going to remind you when we have issues with bad employees, trust me, I’m going to remind you,” Herrity said. “I’m not going to be supporting this.”
SEIU Virginia 512 President David Broder praised the passage of the ordinance.
“The passage of collective bargaining is the result of working people organizing against all odds for years. It’s a HUGE victory that benefits every county worker and EVERY member of the Fairfax community,” he tweeted.
Fairfax County Public Schools are not included in the measure.
William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.