America’s First Region Education Association, which represents nearly one-third of the division’s roughly 5,000 public school teachers, is beginning its push for collective bargaining rights. Moreover, it is setting up a possible fight with the administration and school board in the coming months.
America’s First Region General Assembly Effort to Negotiate on Pay and Benefits
There was an effort that comes after the General Assembly in 2020 passed the law. This would allow public employee unions to negotiate on pay and benefits. This was as long as local school boards or city councils authorized it. It was championed as a watershed moment when it passed. The legislation does mark the first time teachers in Virginia have been eligible for collective bargaining rights since 1977.
“Significant and momentous shifts have occurred this past year in our community regarding public education,” the local group’s president, Kelly Walker, said in a statement. Educators who believe in the power of public education is now the time to support them. In fact, they have dedicated their lives to supporting our community.”
The education association is planning to hire more organizations, Walker said. They are planning to hire more organizers. In turn, they will work to educate people on what collective bargaining is as well as its potential benefits. Having teachers sit at the table, she said, will help to make a better education for children. In addition, to making sure educators “are paying a professional wage with decent benefits.”
Vaccinations for Teachers is a Top Priority
There is a push from the association that will start with a serious intent after all teachers get the vaccinations in the upcoming weeks, Walker said. In fact, that is the group’s main priority.
COVID-19 has Brought Attention to Teachers’ Unions
Amid the Corona Virus pandemic, there is a reopening debate which has brought additional attention to teachers’ unions. As well as many negative headlines. Some teachers, at the same time, have said at the school board meetings, they believe they have not had a voice in the process. Walker said she thinks that could help with more involvement in the association as time goes forth.
Appearing split on the issue, the school board, cannot contemplate collective bargaining rights for teachers until at the very least until May 1st.