City’s bargaining agreement deserves applause

7/21/2022, 6 p.m.
An end to a long-fought battle appears imminent with the announcement that the City of Richmond is poised to approve ...

An end to a long-fought battle appears imminent with the announcement that the City of Richmond is poised to approve a collective bargaining ordinance that will allow city employees to unionize.

As reported by Richmond Free Press reporter, Jeremy M. Lazarus, who has covered the city’s collective bargaining process, the newly framed ordinance will be approved at the Monday, July 25, City Council meeting.

All nine members have signed on as supporters of this landmark legislation that also has the endorsement of Mayor Levar M. Stoney. In other words, all of the city’s decision-makers are supporting this history-making legislation that is anticipated to give rank-and-file city workers more clout.

We commend City Council members and the mayor and his administration for their determination, diligence, patience and hard work to fulfill the hopes and dreams of city workers who believe that their ability to organize and bargain with their bosses will improve their wages and working conditions and make them better able to provide services to residents.

“I appreciate the collaboration between council and administration to reach an agreement on a responsive and responsible collective bargaining paper that will support both our workers and our citizens,” Mayor Stoney said.

Well stated, despite the mayor’s months-long lobbying effort to limit unions to only labor and trades employees in the Department of Public Works and the Department of Public Utilities.

As noted in Mr. Lazarus’article, the new ordinance would allow separate unions for police officers, firefighters, labor and trades workers, professionals, and administrative and technical employees. And each group could have their own union to bargain for them.

Our applause grows louder in learning that three women were instrumental in crafting this ordinance.

“Three members of council are credited with spearheading the ordinance, Kristen M. Nye, 4th District, Reva M. Trammell, 8th District, and Stephanie A. Lynch, 5th District,” Mr. Lazarus writes, adding “People close to the talks said that it would not have happened without Ms. Nye.”

Ms. Nye, whose 4th District has just under 25,000 residents, is in the middle of the city’s other eight districts in terms of population. That to us indicates she fully understands the importance of being a bridge, or middle woman, if you please, representing not only the interests of her Huguenot Road, Westover Hills, Bon Air constituents (workers), but also those residents in Richmond’s more urban centers.

“This compromise creates a solid foundation for city employees to advocate for competitive pay and benefits and continue their service to our residents,” Ms. Nye, chair of council’s Governmental Operations Committee that led the effort, stated.

Longtime Councilwoman Reva Trammell, 8th District, who has survived numerous battles while serving the city, officially or unofficially, has shown nothing but grit and resilience during this process. If anyone were to ever question her allegiance to her constituents, our advice is to think twice.

“This agreement marks a significant step forward for the City of Richmond and its employees,” added Ms. Trammell, who also is credited with ensuring emergency dispatchers could be part of a union representing fire employees.

And while Ms. Lynch may be a relative newcomer to Richmond’s political waters, she has quickly adapted to its sink or swim mentality.

“I have championed our employees for years,” Ms. Lynch stated. Several people who were involved said Ms. Lynch played a critical role in bringing the parties together and in securing compromise language on key items that produced legislation in time to vote on the final meeting in July. “I am ecstatic to have my colleagues reach an agreement that benefits employees.”

We agree with the sentiments that Council President Cynthia I. Newbille, 7th District, expressed in the announcement of the agreement.

“Collective bargaining was something that our employees not only want but need,” Dr. Newbille stated. “Strengthening our employees strengthens our city.”