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A new report suggests collective bargaining is a boon for Virginia teachers and schools

Educators across Virginia are pushing for better wages and working conditions. In some places that could mean collective bargaining.

Until a few years ago, Virginia was one of the few states in the country where collective bargaining was unavailable for teachers. Now, public school employees across Virginia are trying to get collective bargaining ordinances. And new research from the Commonwealth Institute says collective bargaining helps the student experience, staffing, retention and educator pay.

Mel Borja at the Commonwealth Institute says collective bargaining even helps with morale.

"It gives teachers more of a voice on the job. So, they’re able to influence things like curriculum, professional development, textbook selection, teaching methods," Borja says. "And so, you have a much more of a supportive environment with collective bargaining than without."

Chad Stewart at the Virginia Education Association says one of the chief benefits of collective bargaining is that it’ll help fix the teacher shortage.

"Collective bargaining doesn't have to be adversarial. It can really be a win-win for all parties involved," explains Stewart. "We know that there's a severe teacher shortage throughout the state right now, and when teachers have a voice at the table for decision making, it means that you're better able to create conditions where teachers want to stick around."

Public school employees are currently organizing in Alexandria, Charlottesville, Richmond, Arlington County and Montgomery County.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Updated: October 6, 2022 at 5:04 PM EDT
Editor's Note: The Virginia Education Association is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.
Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.