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Some workers for Alexandria, Virginia, choose to form union through AFSCME

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By AFSCME Staff ·

In a near-unanimous vote, labor and trades workers for the City of Alexandria, Virginia, elected to form a union through AFSCME this month, taking a big step toward ensuring better pay and benefits for themselves and gaining a greater ability to advocate for their community.

The 191 public service workers in the city’s Labor and Trades Bargaining Unit voted 96% in favor of joining together through AFSCME Local 3001 (District Council 20). The vote was held by mail between Sept. 2 and Sept. 29, and their victory came just two months after labor and trades workers in nearby Arlington County, Virginia, did the same.

“We came together and stood strong to secure this historic victory,” said Mark Johnson, a heavy equipment operator for the City of Alexandria. “It feels good to be united with my co-workers in wanting to improve our work and services.”

Jason Hitt, a city building engineer, said he and his co-workers are looking forward to bargaining their first contract.

“We all knew what was at stake and we came through to win a voice at the table,” Hitt said. “We’re excited to bargain a contract that represents the best interests of our communities and families – the way it should be.”

Public service workers in Virginia have been organizing ever since our union helped overturn a 44-year-old law that banned public sector collective bargaining in the commonwealth. Pushed by AFSCME’s own Elizabeth Guzman, Virginia legislators passed a measure authorizing collective bargaining for some public employees. Gov. Ralph Northam has signed it into law, which took effect in May 2021 and opened the door to collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public service workers.

“When public service workers have a voice on the job, entire communities benefit,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders at the time of the bill’s signing.

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