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Prince William County first responders intend to form collective bargaining units.

Employees in the police and fire departments submitted petitions to the Board of Supervisors during its meeting Tuesday signaling their intent to collectively bargain.

“We look forward to having a seat at the table,” said Katherine Zaimis, vice president of the Prince William County Police Association.

Under new state law, the petition starts a 120-day clock for the county to craft a collective bargaining ordinance. The ordinance would govern how collective bargaining will work, which employees are eligible and the scope of bargaining.

“Today I’m proud to not just be asking for a seat at the table, but making the table itself,” said Mitch Nason, president of the Prince William County Professional Firefighters Association. 

Prince William’s police and fire departments have associations that act on behalf of members, but they are not formal unions. The groups advocated for larger pay increases during the crafting of the county’s budget for fiscal 2022, which started July 1.

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.

County officials have previously said a collective bargaining system would come with about $2 million in annual operating costs.

In May, the Board of Supervisors directed county staff to provide a recommendation about establishing a group of employees to provide input on collective bargaining.

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

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