Arlington County Board Takes Historic First Step in Expanding County Employees' Workplace Rights

AFSCME Arlington County members were out front and center early Saturday morning on June 12 to show their support for the advancement of a collective bargaining ordinance. This will be the first ordinance introduced by the Arlington County board in over 40 years, expanding workplace rights and giving employees a true voice on the job. “County employees recognize the historic nature of this ordinance, and we are excited to continue the dialogue we have had with county board members to build upon its foundation,” said Jim Rodriguez, an Arlington County employee and President of AFSCME Local 3001. “We believe the individuals who make this a great place to live, work and visit deserve the same rights that other public employees across the country are able to exercise.” 

Arlington County employees have had the opportunity to be represented by AFSCME Local 3001, but with the introduction of a collective bargaining ordinance, county employees can look forward to expanded workplace rights. Under the ordinance, county employees can also formalize their union by winning recognition with AFSCME Virginia and negotiate an actual contract that they can implement to hold themselves and management accountable. That is why the substance of the ordinance is so important.   

AFSCME Virginia, community groups, businesses, and faith leaders are calling for an ordinance that is consistent with the standards in the proposed federal Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. Specifically, Arlington County’s ordinance should include bargaining units that are inclusive of all eligible employees – including temporary employees – while being representative of the diverse job titles of county employees.  County employees should be able to bargain for all workplace conditions, including wages and benefits. The ordinance should also establish a fair and impartial grievance procedure and a neutral arbitration process. 

The Arlington County board is scheduled to reconvene on July 17 to introduce the full ordinance. County employees remain optimistic that the board will continue to hear employee input between now and July 17,and create an ordinance that employees can support. “I’ve been attending open door meetings with individual board members, and I am very impressed with the openness and awareness they have around the collective bargaining process. They have been thoughtful in their questions when seeking our input. I am looking forward to collaborating with them to build an ordinance we can all be proud of,” said Luis Velez Sr., a storm water inspector with Arlington County and Arlington Chapter Recording Secretary of AFSCME Local 3001.