Local 454 to Strike - Virginia City Council Reneges on Their Offer to City Workers

Virginia – In response to the City Council reneging on their most recent offer to city workers, members of AFSCME Local 454 announce they will walk off the job on Wednesday March 6, 2024 at 6:00 am. The strike is a direct result of the city and council’s lack of fairness and respect for its own workers. The city has repeatedly made offers, then walked them back while attempting to use AFSCME members livelihoods to fix their own mismanagement.

Scott DaRonco had this to say about the decision to strike, “I’ve never seen a city council so focused on demeaning its own workers the way Virginia’s has throughout this process. We have no other options left. We’ve tried everything, but after the way the city has treated us, we have to draw a line. We aren’t asking for a lot. We just want respect in a contract that isn’t 10 steps backwards.”

At 12:55 PM today, the City’s Attorney notified AFSCME that the City Council voted to withdraw the final offer they made to members of AFSCME Local 454. The city made the offer after over 13 hours of mediation last Tuesday, February 27th. Councilor members Biondich and Motley participated in the mediation process.  It was presented to the local as a “last, best, final offer.” Members were planning to vote on the proposal tonight, March 5th.

It is clearer than ever that the city never intended to negotiate fairly and honestly with its workers. In response to this unreasonable and unlawful action by the council, AFSCME Council 65 is filing an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against the city through the Public Employment Labor Relations Board (PERB).

The City Council’s withdrawal of their offer is just the latest in a string of ridiculous, childish, and incompetent actions they have taken during these negotiations. The same day the offer was made, the City Council blocked over a hundred AFSCME Local 454 members and community supporters from speaking to the Council at a scheduled public forum. In an attempt to silence growing public pressure, the City Council stealthily approved an emergency ordinance prohibiting targeted residential picketing in Virginia. No reason was provided by the Council in the introduction or passage of the ordinance.  AFSCME Council 65 condemns the City Council’s attack on the First Amendment freedom to publicly demonstrate, particularly through union activity.

Following the meeting, Councilor Julianne Paulsen verbally taunted and presented these dedicated public servants with a bucket of pacifiers. AFSCME 65 condemns this reprehensible behavior from an elected official. City workers have a clear right to engage in their right to organize and negotiate a fair contract without facing childish attacks.

Council members must start taking their role as leaders seriously. The residents of Virginia did not elect them to concoct childish stunts nor silence the public expression. They were elected to help invest in Virginia’s future and lead the city’s talented team of workers. They are showing time and time again they are not interested in nor capable of leading this city and must do better.