© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Two competing teacher unions in Fairfax County are joining forces

Virginia's largest school system, one of the biggest in the country in fact, is about to enter into a collective bargaining agreement.

Teachers in Virginia were not able to unionize until 2020, when Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill that allowed collective bargaining for public-sector employees. That led to some soul searching for two rival unions in Fairfax County, the Education Association and the Federation of Teachers.

"For many years, we've been fighting against each other," says Leslie Houston, president of the Fairfax Education Association.

"We had to come together for these 27,000 employees to get collective bargaining. And we couldn't do it by ourselves. I couldn't do it by myself with FEA and he couldn't do it by himself with FCFT. So, we formed this alliance."

David Walrod is president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers.

"I think you have a lot of folks that remember difficulties from years past," Walrod says. "But what you have right now is you have two leaders of the organizations that recognize that the best path forward is together. And, we could fight it out or we could have collective bargaining. And we realized – what’s the best thing for the workers of Fairfax County? Collective bargaining."

Leaders of the alliance say they hope a collective bargaining agreement will be in place for the start of the 2025 school year.

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

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.