Norfolk City Employees Demand Fair Raise and A Union

On Tuesday, May 11, City of Norfolk employees joined together on the steps of City Hall to demand fair raises. The employees were also asking City Council and Mayor Alexander to work with city employees to draft a real collective bargaining ordinance that gives them a true voice on the job. Click here to view pictures from the event.  

Janal Floyd, a speaker at yesterday’s event and a city employee who was deemed essential when the pandemic hit Norfolk shared his dissatisfaction with the city’s lack of acknowledgment for their contributions. “Public employees, who are often unseen, are valuable. We keep the roads maintained, the water clean, and make sure sidewalks aren’t dangerous. We keep the city of Norfolk running and we deserve respect,” he said. City workers have repeatedly reached out to City Council asking for a chance to discuss their current economic situation and offer solutions that include a strong collective bargaining ordinance, granting employees the right to form a union. Click here to send the City of Norfolk City Council a letter demanding fair raises and a union! 

 HB 582, which went into effect on May 1, 2021, grants public employees the ability to bargain over workplace issues, giving employees a real voice on the job. The bill additionally requires individual cities like Norfolk to introduce and adopt their own collective bargaining ordinances. On April 17, 2021, the city of Alexandria was the first in the commonwealth to pass a collective bargaining ordinance, while several municipalities across the state prepare to pass their own versions.  

Clifford Johnson, a refuse collector and a member of the AFSCME Fund the Front Lines Committee, joined his coworkers to send two separate emails in February and March requesting that City Council and Mayor Alexander sit down with the committee to discuss workplace concerns and a Norfolk collective bargaining ordinance. “We had high hopes of working collaboratively with the city to address many of the workplace issues we face, including low wages, but instead of meeting with us, we were they basically ignored us. As hardworking city employees, they need to hear our stories,” he said. Currently, city employees are making less money than similar cities in size to Norfolk, and most City of Norfolk employees are people of color with over five years of service to the city.   

City of Norfolk employees continued to push for local funding at the federal level to help Norfolk weather the pandemic. They actively advocated for both the CARES Act and the more recent American Rescue Plan. The city of Norfolk is scheduled to receive about $159 million in relief funds from the American Rescue Plan. “City employees were front-line employees who had to deal with cuts to their departments, including furloughs. We are ready to make sacrifices, but we want a chance to discuss them with city administration,” said Priscilla Brown, refuse collector for the city of Norfolk. 

Check out a photo album of the events here and the highlights video here.