VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) — The recently formed Virginia Beach City Workers Union rallied for collective bargaining ahead of Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

UE Local 111 demonstrated outside City Hall and held a news conference Tuesday evening. About 40 people, including union members and their supporters, had gathered as of 5:30 p.m.

The group was unable to speak in front of City Council on the issue because they were not on the agenda Tuesday night, but planned to make their statement during the rally outside.

Members say they’re demanding a real voice for safety, dignity, living wages and an end to institutional racism on the job. They are calling city leaders to recognize worker unions, and allow them to negotiate with the city manager for better working conditions and pay.

As of now, City Council appears poised to take no action on their request.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr took his last stand supporting city workers in Memphis, Tennessee demanding these same rights,” the union wrote. “The 1,300-strong sanitation workers’ strike in 1968 was sparked by the deaths of two Black city workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, who had been crushed on the job by a malfunctioning truck. As the nation celebrates the King holiday, this action will honor his real legacy as we request that the Virginia Beach City Council pass a resolution in support of Collective Bargaining.”

A new law signed by former Gov. Ralph Northam last May allows public workers to engage in collective bargaining if local governing bodies agree to recognize them. City workers were already sharing their demands for fair wages and more in 2020 ahead of the new law taking effect.

So far, no government in the Hampton Roads area has agreed to do it.

According to the Virginia Beach Human Resources Department, Waste Management operators were increased 5% or 10% on the pay scale in October 2020:

  • Waste Management Operator I 5%    (G12 to G13)
  • Waste Management Operator II 10% (G14 to G16)
  • Waste Management Operator III 10% (G16 to G18)
  • Waste Management Operator IV 15% (15% in pay range – G17 to G20, 10% in pay per City code)
  • Waste Management Operator Supervisor 5% (G21 to G22)

Tuesday’s council meeting started at 6 p.m. Look for updates coming up.

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