Frequently Asked Questions About Collective Bargaining
Updated: March 31, 2023
What is collective bargaining?
Collective bargaining is the process in which employees (a bargaining unit), represented by a bargaining agent (a labor union), negotiate with their employers (LCPS) to determine terms and conditions of employment.
The result of collective bargaining is called a collective bargaining agreement, and it establishes rules of employment for a set number of years.
Is collective bargaining allowed in Virginia?
Prior to 2020, the State of Virginia expressly banned collective bargaining for public employees. During the 2020 Legislative Session, the General Assembly passed, and the Governor signed, a bill that gave school divisions the option of adopting a resolution allowing collective bargaining for School Board employees. The local option is codified in Virginia Code Section 40.1-57.2 and became effective May 1, 2021.
Who is eligible for collective bargaining?
Only employees of a governing body (for example, the Loudoun County School Board) are eligible for inclusion in a collective bargaining resolution. This refers to employees who are subject to the authority and control of the School Board, either directly or through the Superintendent.
Does the school board have to allow collective bargaining?
No, the new state law does not mandate that the School Board extend collective bargaining rights to employees. However, if not yet adopted, the School Board is required to “take a vote to adopt or not adopt [a] … resolution” “within 120 days of receiving certification from a majority of public employees” in a self-identified bargaining unit (a bargaining unit is a group of employees that is represented by a bargaining agent or labor union.)
What is the process for employees to seek collective bargaining?
Virginia Code Section 40.1-57.2 provides that any collective bargaining resolution must set forth procedures for the certification and decertification of exclusive bargaining representatives for employee units, including a means for other employee groups to participate in this process. Because the statute does not contain any procedures for verifying employee support for certification, the Loudoun County School Board addressed procedures for verifying a certification at a meeting on June 28, 2022. At that meeting, the Board voted to approve procedures for the submission of an employee certification.
If employees receive collective bargaining rights, can they go on strike or obligate the School Board to appropriate funds?
No, the new statute does not authorize employees to strike, which remains strictly prohibited. Additionally, the statute states that no collective bargaining ordinance shall restrict a locality’s governing body’s ability to establish a budget or appropriate funds.
Is there currently a formal process for employees to bring their concerns to the attention of LCPS leadership?
Yes. School Board Policy 7016, Employment Complaints and Policy 7014, Environments Free From Harassment, Discrimination, and Abuse provide employees with guidance on reporting and resolving employment concerns and complaints.
If an employee would like to file a formal complaint, they can do so by completing an LCPS Workplace Relations Formal Complaint Form, or contacting the HRTD Workplace Relations team.
Additional resources for employees to express concerns include the Office of the Ombuds. The LCPS Ombuds serves as the designated impartial resource for students, families, employees and community members. firstname.lastname@example.org | 571-252-2447
Examples of when to contact the Ombuds include;
When you want help resolving an issue that impacts student success or the school/work environment
When you want to understand an LCPS process or where to go for assistance
When you need an impartial resource, thought partner, sounding board, or coach to assist with navigating a concern
If I am an LCPS employee, am I required to join/participate in a union?
No. Membership/participation in a union by an employee in a bargaining unit will be entirely voluntary. Employees may choose to join or not join a union.
As an LCPS employee, if I join a union, will I have to pay dues? If yes, how much will the dues cost?
Employees who choose to join a union typically will pay dues to be a member. Details of union membership, such as dues, will be determined by the union and may be subject to change over time.
Do I have to pay dues if I do not join a union?
No, you will not need to pay union membership dues if you choose not to join a union.
If I am in a bargaining unit but do not join a union, will I still be covered by the contract for the bargaining unit?
Yes. Once a contract is reached with a union for a bargaining unit, all employees in the bargaining unit are covered by the contract, affected by the agreement and represented by the union, as the union would be bargaining on behalf of all employees in a specific collective bargaining unit.
If I am in a bargaining unit, am I automatically a member of the union?
No. Being an employee who is part of a bargaining unit does not automatically confer membership in the union.
Can there be more than one bargaining agent (union) for a bargaining unit?
No. There will be only one bargaining agent (union) per bargaining unit.
Does the statute set forth any procedures for verifying the employees did, in fact, sign the authorization cards?
No. The statute does not establish a procedural framework or substantive guidance on a process for verifying employee support for the certification.
Has the School Board adopted any procedures for verifying employee support for the certification?
Yes. The adopted procedures can be found on the LCPS School Board Doc Website.
Did the School Board adopt the collective bargaining verification of employee support procedure in an open meeting?
Yes. The school board’s meeting was open to the public. During the meeting, the Board did meet in a closed session to discuss with Division Counsel and LCPS staff the legal requirements and procedures pertaining to any certifications filed in the future. Virginia law specifically allows the Board to consult privately with its attorneys and staff members on legal matters. However, it is important to note that after the closed session, the Board received a presentation on the proposed procedures and voted to adopt them. Both the presentation and Board vote were open and accessible to the public and can be viewed online.
An amendment to the procedures was made in a public meeting on August 9, 2022 and that discussion and vote can also be viewed online.
What do the procedures adopted by the Board provide?
The procedures require certifications to include (i) the name, (ii) current School Board position/classification, (iii) employee identification number, (iv) date of hire, (v) signature (or sufficient evidence of electronic signature), and (vi) date of signature. They also require evidence indicating that the person signing in support of the certification authorized the filing party to obtain certification on their behalf. If this information is not provided with a certification, the filing party can provide it to the School Board within 14 days. The full details are available on the LCPS School Board BoardDocs Website.
If the statute became effective in May 2021, what is happening now (February 2023)?
On January 31, 2023, the Loudoun Education Association (LEA) filed a cover letter and affidavit signed by the LEA President, stating under oath that as of January 27, 2023, “a majority, specifically 51%, of LCPS' certified employees have signed authorization cards supporting collective bargaining, authorizing LEA to represent them, and confirming their request for the Loudoun County School Board to adopt a resolution for collective bargaining." The LEA also filed a proposed resolution it wants the School Board to adopt.
Did the LEA provide the School Board with signature cards for each employee?
No. Along with the affidavit, the LEA filed a blank sample authorization card to illustrate what a majority of the employees completed. The LEA did not provide any employee's signature or completed card in support of collective bargaining.
Which LCPS employees are seeking to bargain collectively?
The LEA's certification was filed on behalf of certified employees, meaning those employees licensed by the Virginia Department of Education or the Virginia Department of Health. In their proposed resolution, the LEA describes the group of employees in the proposed bargaining unit as "all teachers, school counselors, specialists, librarians, ITRTs, school psychologists, social workers, speech pathologists, and department chairs.
Has the School Board received any public briefings on the topic of collective bargaining since receipt of certification from LEA?
Yes, the School Board has received two public briefings on collective bargaining; both are available on BoardDocs. The first was on February 14, 2023, and the second was on March 14, 2023.
Has the School Board approved collective bargaining?
Yes, on March 28, 2023, the School Board agreed to adopt a resolution providing for collective bargaining by certified employees and any other employees the School Board deems appropriate. The full details, including a copy of the resolution adopted by the Board, are available on the LCPS School Board BoardDocs website.
What are the School Board’s next steps with respect to collective bargaining?
On March 28, 2023, the Loudoun County School Board adopted a resolution authorizing collective bargaining by licensed classroom teachers and any other School Board employees deemed appropriate by the Loudoun County School Board and directed the Legislative and Policy Committee to draft a collective bargaining resolution which the school board shall vote to adopt or reject by December 31, 2023.