Support

Collective Bargaining, Higher Wages for Construction Workers on the County Board Agenda

The County Board will consider tomorrow whether to advertise public hearings for two amendments that could impact labor negotiations and wages.

One will determine whether the county code should allow employee associations to enter into collective bargaining with the county over compensation, benefits, working conditions and other issues. The other would add prevailing wage provisions — increasing compensation for construction workers — for contracts of $1.5 million or more, starting this October.

Both of these changes respond to state laws passed by the General Assembly in 2020 and went into effect last month. One law allows municipal employees to join unions and negotiate employment conditions for the first time since the 1970s. The other gives local governments the option to implement prevailing wage programs for public works contracts exceeding $250,000.

Collective bargaining is slated to go first on Saturday.

“Consistent with Arlington’s values, the proposal to allow employees to organize and collectively bargain in good faith is intended to promote constructive relationships between the County and its employees,” a county report said.

The county anticipates that the initial collective bargaining agreements will go into effect in the 2023-24 fiscal year. Nearly 2,540 employees are eligible to join one of five collective bargaining units proposed in the ordinance.

These five units are police; fire and emergency medical services; service, labor and trades; office, professional and technical; and general government.

Some employee associations representing these categories already exist, but “the advent of collective bargaining will offer employees the choice to more formally organize their views through professional representatives,” the report said. Currently, associations for employees like police officers and firefighters are limited to publicly advocating for raises and other changes, as opposed to being able to directly negotiate with county officials.

This ordinance also would determine what topics are on- and off-limits for negotiation.

“While the County and the employee associations have reached consensus for the bulk of the ordinance, there remains a difference of approach on a few key areas, particularly focused on the scope of bargaining and how disagreements would be resolved,” the report said.

For example, Schwartz and unions disagree over how much of the process for challenging disciplinary actions can be negotiated.

About 1,590 employees — including managers and supervisors and temporary employees — are ineligible.

According to the report, the county budgeted $350,000 for legal services and a new position for the first phase of implementation, as more staff were needed to write contracts and determine bargaining units. But the county anticipates “substantial additional resources will be needed” beyond that.

It cited the City of Alexandria, which is spending $850,000 on the first phase, and Loudoun County, which has estimated it will need $1.4 million to get started.

In Arlington, the collective bargaining measure is supported at least by County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti and Vice-Chair Katie Cristol, according to Blue Virginia.

Next, the Board is set to consider a policy that would possibly increase wages for tradespeople working on government-contracted projects.

“Prevailing wage policies are founded on the idea that public contracts should not decrease the average wage rates for construction laborers and tradespeople in a locality but should either maintain the average or improve it,” according to a county report. “In areas where racial and gender pay and benefit gaps exist, prevailing wage policies can also help close these gaps.”

Some — but not all — workers can expect a boost in their pay from the new policy.

“Certain labor classes will see improvement while others are unlikely to be impacted,” the report said.

The policy will come with a cost, in the form of making construction more expensive.

“The standard assumption in the construction industry is that prevailing wage policies add approximately 15% to construction contract costs, although actual impacts can vary depending on the region, the type of construction, and percentage of the labor component of the specific contract,” the report to the County Board says. “Staff expects the actual impact in the Northern Virginia construction market to be less than this given the level of competition and the influence of existing prevailing wage policies in Washington, D.C. and Maryland.”

“If these contract costs increased by 5-10% that could mean additional construction costs of $3 million to $6 million each year and could require reprioritization of the capital program,” the report said. “Staff will carefully study these impacts and will adjust future cost estimates and capital plans accordingly.”

Both ordinances would be scheduled for public hearings and possible adoption on July 17.

Recent Stories

Everyone has flat screen TVs already so how about a more interesting Black Friday special? The ARLnow Press Club for free, to try out the daily Early Morning Notes email…

There’s not a whole lot going on in Arlington today, save for activity at local shopping centers, so we’re going to fast forward right to the top story countdown. Here…

Statues of Liberty gives thanks this holiday season and grateful for a few things this year.

Happy Thanksgiving, Arlington!

It’s turkey time. Thanksgiving Eve is upon us and extra revelry can be expected at some local bars tonight, ahead of the holiday. Please be careful on the roads and…

The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 76th annual Christmas tree sale!

This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 25th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to huge 14 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garlands, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.

100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.

For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.

Submit your own Announcement here.

Art House 7 is a small art studio in Arlington – offering instruction in painting, ceramics, sewing and more. We are looking for kind, dedicated people who love both creating and teaching.

Ceramic Teachers are needed to teach wheel-throwing to adults and 6-12th graders and to teach hand building to elementary grades. Classes have 3-8 students.

Drawing teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. For kids, we offer cartooning, manga or traditional drawing. For adults, we only offer traditional drawing.

Painting teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. We offer oil, acrylic or watercolor for adults or teens. All elementary classes use acrylic and tempera.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

National Chamber Ensemble – Holiday Cheer!

NCE’s Holiday Concert will bring the finest classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family. The festivities begin with Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride” and “Chanukkah Festival”, music from the Nutcracker and by J.S. Bach.

Outstanding Young Artist

Tony Woods Live – Standup Comedy Showcase

Live Standup Comedy Starring the Legendary Tony Woods!
Arlington, VA
Friday, November 25

8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (Doors at 7pm)
Crystal City Sports Pub (3rd floor lounge)
529 23rd Street South, Arlington, VA
$15 – General admission
$20 –

×

Subscribe to our mailing list