The Fairfax County School Board is expected to adopt a resolution regarding collective bargaining in the coming months.
As a result of Virginia General Assembly-approved legislation that became effective in May 2021, counties, cities, and towns in Virginia (including School Boards) can now bargain collectively with employees upon adopting an authorizing ordinance or resolution.
Collective bargaining is a process by which an employer (such as FCPS) negotiates with a group of employees (a bargaining unit) that is represented by a bargaining agent (such as a union or association) over terms and conditions of employment.
The Fairfax County School Board is expected to adopt a resolution regarding collective bargaining in the coming months. This resolution will determine the scope and breadth of collective bargaining for Fairfax County Public Schools.
Collective Bargaining Work Group
In anticipation of the new law going into effect, FCPS created a collective bargaining workgroup, led by by a facilitator/consultant, representatives from FCPS Central Office leadership, as well as Certified Employee Associations, including:
- Asian Educators Association (AEA).
- Association of Fairfax Professional Educators (AFPE).
- Fairfax Alliance of Black School Educators (FABSE).
- Fairfax Association of Elementary School Principals (FAESP).
- Fairfax Association of School Social Workers (FASSW).
- Fairfax County Directors of Student Activities Association (DSAA).
- Fairfax County Federation of Teachers (FCFT).
- Fairfax Education Association (FEA).
- Fairfax Pride.
- Fairfax Speech-Language Pathologists Association (FSLPA).
- Fairfax Support Professionals Association (FSPA).
- High School Directors of Student Services Association (HSDSSA).
- High School Principals Association (HSPA).
- Hispanic Educators Association.
- Middle School Directors of Student Services Association (MSDSSA).
- Middle School Principals Association (MSPA).
- Support Employees Association (SEA).
Contact information for each of the Certified Employee Associations is available on the Employee Hub (FCPS employees only).
The work group is considering options and best ways to choose the subjects for bargaining that meet the interest of all of the different groups represented. Their purpose is to capture the viewpoints of the Certified Employee Associations in a proposed collective bargaining resolution to be presented to the School Board. The School Board will have a work session(s) and public hearing(s) on the draft/amended resolution before finalizing a document for a vote. Once a resolution is adopted, then the process for determining the bargaining units and their respective agents will proceed based on the guidelines of the resolution.
Collective Bargaining Work Group Meetings
The first meeting of the collective bargaining group was September 30 with meetings scheduled every few weeks through at least January.
Collective bargaining is a process by which an employer (such as FCPS) negotiates with a group of employees (a bargaining unit) that is represented by a bargaining agent (a union/association) over terms and conditions of employment.
The Virginia Assembly approved legislation that became effective May 1, 2021, that allows locally elected organizations (like the FCPS school board) to enact a resolution to create collective bargaining agreements with employee groups. The FCPS school board voted in February 2020 to initiate the consideration of collective bargaining at FCPS.
The FCPS school board met with representatives of the 17 FCPS Certified Employee Associations (CEP) during the spring of 2021 to determine issues common to all and their interests in participating in the process.
- In May 2021, the school board authorized the formation of a six-member Superintendent’s collective bargaining team during the budget process.
- On August 28, 2021, the school board approved the hiring of a collective bargaining meeting facilitator, Stan Damas, to oversee the participation of the CEP’s in developing a proposed collective bargaining resolution. The collective bargaining group that Damas is moderating includes two or three representatives of each interested CEP and several members of the Superintendent’s leadership team and the school board’s division council. The draft resolution this group is developing will be presented to the school board at a future work session to begin the public process, including a public hearing. The Board will then consider voting on and adopting a collective bargaining resolution framework to begin collective bargaining at FCPS.
- Membership/participation in a union/association in a bargaining unit will be entirely voluntary. Employees may choose to join or not join a union/association. The number and membership in bargaining units will be determined during the development of the resolution.
- Employees who choose to join a union/association that charges dues (some do not), are charged an amount determined by the union/association and may be subject to change over time. If an employee chooses not to join a union/association, they will not pay dues.
- Once a contract is reached with a union/association (bargaining agent) for a bargaining unit, all employees in the bargaining unit are covered by the contract, affected by the agreement and represented by the bargaining agent, as the bargaining agent would be bargaining on behalf of all employees in a specific collective bargaining unit.
- The FCPS collective bargaining resolution will be separate and distinct from the Fairfax County ordinance that was adopted in October 2021.
- FCPS employees will not engage in strikes since Virginia Code Section 40.1-55 prohibits public employees from engaging in a strike.
- It is unknown what impact collective bargaining will have on current employees and their pay. Potentially, a bargaining unit agent could negotiate a contract that specifies specific terms regarding compensation for its bargaining unit members. The parties may not reach final agreement on all matters, including pay changes.
Fiscal and Budget Concerns
- Collective bargaining agreements approved by the FCPS school board will be legally binding and enforceable contracts. However, the Virginia General Assembly law allowing jurisdictions (like FCPS) to engage in collective bargaining (Section 40.1-57.2B) states, “No ordinance or resolution adopted pursuant to subsection A shall include provisions that restrict the governing body’s authority to establish the budget or appropriate funds.” Therefore, the law requires that the bargaining agreements must remain subject to fiscal/budget limitations.
- Under Virginia code Section 40.1-57.2, a collective bargaining agreement cannot override the FCPS school board’s ultimate authority to allocate money and fund financial commitments. The process for collective bargaining agreement approvals will be aligned with FCPS’s budget timeline to meet FCPS’s budget preparation deadlines for consideration along with all of the system’s funding choices and obligations.