For the first time in more than 40 years, the union representing firefighters, fire
“This is a monumental day for the members of our department,” said Alexandria Firefighters Local IAFF 2141 president Josh Turner. “But it’s also a monumental day for all working people and communities throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia — we’ve shown that when workers come together, whether they’re first responders, teachers, sanitation workers or anything else, that when we work together, we have the power to have a say in the decisions that impact our lives and the lives of the communities we serve. This win puts us in a position to ensure we are providing the best services to the members of our community.”
Members of the Alexandria Fire Department will now become the first public sector employees to collectively bargain a contract in the commonwealth since a 1977 decision by the Virginia Supreme Court banned collective bargaining between local governments and their employees.
That changed in May of 2021 when a state law was passed allowing local governments to adopt ordinances recognizing labor unions for the purposes of collective bargaining.
“This is a mandate from the workforce” said organizer Jeremy McClayton. “We still have the upcoming negotiations with the city that will run until November, and we still have this year’s current budget run by a new City Manager that we are cautiously optimistic about. But anytime you win an election with 99 percent of the vote, particularly in an election as historic and impactful as this, you need to take the time to celebrate with the team first.”
Staffing shortages and regional pay competitiveness have been a concern for union officials in recent months. Alexandria began taking steps to address the concern over pay disparities with City Council last October approving a 1.5 percent pay increase for city government employees. New City Manager James Parajon has proposed a fiscal year 2023 budget that provides a 6 percent increase in sworn fire pay.
The vote by IAFF Local 2141 passed by a margin of 163-1, or 99.39 percent. There were 239 personnel eligible to vote.