AFSCME Virginia Members Oppose City Manager’s Proposed Collective Bargaining Ordinance: City Workers Want an Ordinance That Gives Workers a Real Voice


February 9, 2021   

Press Contact: Namita Waghray 

Email: [email protected] 

Cell: (440) 305-117 

For Immediate Release  

AFSCME Virginia Members Oppose City Manager’s Proposed Collective Bargaining Ordinance: 

City Workers Want an Ordinance That Gives Workers a Real Voice

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks will propose a collective bargaining ordinance that the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the union for Virginia’s public employees, and AFL-CIO coalition partner International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2141 cannot support. The city manager is proposing an ordinance that allows only for negotiating over wages and benefits and falls short of being a collective bargaining bill that gives Alexandria public employees a full voice. 

“We are glad to learn that the city wanted to be the first in Virginia to adopt a collective bargaining ordinance – but we want to make sure it’s the right ordinance. In Maryland and in Washington, D.C., they have collective bargaining ordinances that respect employees’ voices,” said Jerrell Williams, a refuse collector and AFSCME Virginia Front-Line Workers Committee leader. “They can negotiate around safety on the job – this ordinance doesn’t allow for that – it keeps us silent,” added Williams. 

Alexandria employees and AFSCME Virginia members are urging the city council and the mayor to reject this version and adopt a strong collective bargaining ordinance that truly gives workers a voice on the job. AFSCME Virginia and IAFF Local 2141 are advocating for a collective bargaining ordinance that includes a broad scope of bargaining, binding arbitration, and appropriate bargaining units. 

The proposed ordinance limits the scope of bargaining to wages and benefits, thereby removing other issues related to employee working conditions – such as safety and scheduling procedures – from the discussion. The city staff proposal limits bargaining to such a degree that it cannot be fairly characterized as to provide for collective bargaining rights. When the scope of bargaining is limited to wages and benefits, public service employees' voices are silenced – and those relying on public services suffer. The city manager’s proposal is closely modeled after the same limiting policy imposed by Scott Walker, the anti-worker former governor of Wisconsin. It was harmful there, and it could have the same negative effect in Alexandria. 

AFSCME Virginia believes all public employees deserve a fair and impartial grievance procedure and a neutral arbitration process, based on the prevailing standards of labor relations throughout the public and private sectors. This is consistent with Virginia law.

Finally, while the City of Alexandria and AFSCME both agree that non-public safety bargaining units should bargain around common issues at the same bargaining table, the current proposal restricts those bargaining units from five units to two. Because there are a wide diversity of occupations and functions within city government, there should be a reasonable number of bargaining units to provide for sufficient employee self-expression, regarding their choice to be represented – or not – by a labor organization. 

AFSCME Virginia believes that any ordinance should be reflective of the original bill that was introduced by Delegate Guzman to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2019. The bill would have provided all of Virginia’s public employees with the freedom to engage in collective bargaining, with a broad scope of contract negotiation, binding arbitration, and the number of bargaining units that reflect the varied services public employees provide.  

 “Essential and front-line workers deserve an ordinance that strengthens their voice on the job. The proposed ordinance does not accomplish this and does not reflect the intent of the bill,” said Virginia House Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, AFSCME Local 3001 Vice-President, city employee, and champion of the law.

“Public workers have been on the front lines, keeping our community functioning during this pandemic.  They deserve a full voice on the job. As a longtime resident of Alexandria, I understand that when public employees have strong collective bargaining rights, we all benefit,” said Luis Velez Sr., AFSCME Virginia Member and Alexandria resident.


AFSCME's 1.4 million members provide the vital services that make America happen. With members in communities across the nation, serving in hundreds of different occupations — from nurses to corrections officers, child care providers to sanitation workers — AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services and freedom and opportunity for all working families.