Prince William County supervisors will vote on a proposed collective bargaining ordinance next month.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Board of County Supervisors held its final work session on the proposal to govern how collective bargaining will work, which employees are eligible and the scope of bargaining.

Work started more than a year ago when employees in the police and fire departments submitted petitions to the Board of Supervisors signaling their intent to collectively bargain. The police and fire departments currently have associations that act on behalf of members, but they are not formal unions.

State code had previously prohibited local governments from recognizing labor unions among its employees or entering into collective bargaining contracts with them. Employees for state agencies and constitutional officers are not included in the new legislation.

In Prince William County, 4,096 employees would be eligible for collective bargaining, and 1,754 would be ineligible.

The majority of Tuesday’s discussion centered on elections and the specific parameters around negotiations, particularly involving a third-party arbiter. The board was jockeying over how much it would be bound by the decisions of bargaining when it comes to appropriating funds.

County Attorney Michelle Robl said the ordinance is slightly different from other Northern Virginia jurisdictions that have already approved their frameworks, but are having “growing pains” and haven’t reached their first agreement.

“The first agreement is the most important agreement because once conditions are in there, it will be extremely difficult to change them,” she said.

The county will advertise a public hearing for Nov. 22 on the finalized ordinance, which is expected to be posted on the county’s website ahead of the meeting.


Nolan Stout covers Prince William County. Reach him at or @TheNolanStout on Facebook and Twitter.

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