The Arlington Professional Firefighters & Paramedics Association sent a letter on Monday to County Manager Mark Schwartz that constitutes its petition for an election to be the exclusive bargaining agent for the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Bargaining Unit as defined in legislation passed July 17.
The association urged the manager to hold an election at the earliest possible opportunity, opening the door to contract talks before the end of the year.
The union has provided a comprehensive list of individuals who have certified the organization to withdraw monthly membership fees from paychecks with Arlington County, which constitutes the “administratively acceptable evidence” defined in the new law.
“A voice on the job via collective bargaining has been a stated goal in our union bylaws for decades,” said Brian Lynch, president of the Arlington Professional Firefighters & Paramedics Association. “This list clearly shows we have the backing of the overwhelming majority of the bargaining unit members. This high level of support has been steady for decades.”
In the 1970s, the Arlington Professional Firefighters & Paramedics Association represented firefighters in collective bargaining before the Virginia Supreme Court ruled collective bargaining illegal.
Last year, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation allowing the re-establishment of collective bargaining community by community. In April, Alexandria was the first community to pass an ordinance.
“This is a historic time for Arlington,” said Lynch. “Collective bargaining allows for collaborative decision making between the experts who deliver county services and administrators who oversee programs. This type of teamwork benefits all of our residents, businesses and visitors.”