Decision day looms for employees’ union choices

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 5/18/2023, 6 p.m.
Once stalled, unionizing of City Hall employees has begun to move forward after Labor Relations Administrator Keith D. Greenberg ruled …

Once stalled, unionizing of City Hall employees has begun to move forward after Labor Relations Administrator Keith D. Greenberg ruled that crew leaders with the title of supervisor cannot be part of employee bargaining units, the Free Press has learned.

That decision clears the way for an election that would allow city labor and trades employees to select either the Teamsters or the Laborers International Union of North America to represent them.

The decision also enables the Service Employees International Union to secure elections to become the representative for two other city employee groups, administrative employees and professional employees.

Election dates have yet to be set, the Free Press has been told.

On Monday, the Richmond Coalition of Police officially became the bargaining agent for the 562 police officers up to the rank of lieutenant who are eligible to unionize.

RCOP, which currently has about 400 members, but will represent everyone in the bargaining unit, earned the right in winning its election 183-7, RCOP officials said.

Firefighters, currently represented by Local 995 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, also have yet to vote to affirm the local as their agent in contract negotiations.

Meanwhile, unionizing continues at Richmond Public Schools.

The Richmond Education Association represents most employees, although principals, custodians and bus drivers will be represented by other unions.

The principals already have decided to join Teamsters Local 592, while the estimated 225 custodians capped an election last weekend by approving Teamsters Local 322 as their bargaining agent.

School bus drivers are the only group that has not approved an exclusive bargaining agent, but the estimated 220 drivers will soon decide between the Teamsters and Labors International Union of North America (LIUNA) after rejecting REA in an election earlier this month.

A runoff election, now anticipated to be held in early June, is being scheduled for bus drivers to decide between LIUNA and the Teamsters.

The REA represents most of RPS’ eligible union employees, including teachers, instructional aides, cafeteria workers, central office support staff, school secretaries, attendance workers, office associates, security officers and licensed professionals ranging from school nurses to librarians and social workers.

The School Board approved budget funding Monday to provide first-year financial backing for the three-year contracts REA has negotiated with the administration for teachers and non-teaching employees they represent.

The board also approved the latest contracts that are to be effective July 1.

The contract for licensed professionals would boost pay 12 % over the three-year term, while the contracts for part-time aides and cafeteria workers would boost the school system’s minimum wage to $18.93 an hour over the contract term.

According to the budget that the board approved 7-1, teachers are to gain a 6 percent increase in the 2023-24 school year, while instructional assistants would receive a 10.6 percent increase, cafeteria workers would receive a 5 to 17 % increase depending on position and hours worked, and security staff would receive a 5 to 9 % increase, depending on the position.