Don’t Let the Unions Take Control of Prince William Schools Away From Parents, Students, and Taxpayers

In 2021 Republican Governor Glen Youngkin, along with Lt. Governor Sears, Attorney General Miyares, and the majority of the House of Delegates were elected to office after promising to return control of Virginia schools to the parents and students.  This June 15th the Prince William School Board is scheduled to take up the topic of the Democrat Party policy of putting control of the county’s schools in the hands of the unions.  On that date the School Board will vote on allowing the Prince William Education Association (PWEA)  to have a monopoly on bargaining for the teachers, thus allowing the unholy trinity of unions, bureaucrats, and lawyers to control our schools instead of parents and students.  We oppose that effort and call on the Prince William School Board to vote against allowing unions to have this power. 

In the few years that the Democrats had unified control of Virginia government, perhaps the most dangerous act they passed was allowing public sector monopoly bargaining in local government.  Experience in other state’s show that granting monopoly bargaining power to public service unions means that union demands soon take priority over the needs of the taxpayers, the schools, and the children.  As Albert Shanker, the head of   New York’s teacher’s union said, “when school children start to pay union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.” 

Preventing unions from monopolizing bargaining in the schools was a position that Virginia Democrats and Republicans used to share.  It was not long ago that Prince William County Democrat Delegate David Brickley was the primary sponsor of the Commonwealth’s statutory bar to public-sector monopoly bargaining. But we face a new Democrat Party in Virginia, devoted to taking power wherever they can. 

Provisions granting the privilege to a labor union to bargain on behalf of a “bargaining unit” of necessity extinguishes the right of employees who do not support a labor union to bargain for their own terms and conditions of employment   Public-sector monopoly bargaining also imposes upon public officials, elected by the people, the obligation to give special attention to a discreet and preferred interest group: labor unions.

Already, with the ordinance passed by the County School Board, we see the pernicious results of the granting of this special privilege, and the results so far are not promising to citizens and taxpayers of the County. 

The PWEA first told the County School Board that it had no obligation to actually prove up its claim that a majority of County teachers support monopoly bargaining, instead offering the School Board a scant and self-serving affidavit of PWEA President Maggie Hansford, offering little more than allegations unsupported by any evidence that the union has secured adequate signatures. To its credit, the School Board stood against this refusal to provide real proof against contrived union claims of “privacy” and unwarranted fears of “retaliation.” Ultimately, the PWEA relented. 

However, the ordinance passed by the Board favors labor unions. 

The School Board Resolution on Collective Bargaining requires certification of an “exclusive representative” only upon a showing “that an employee association was selected by a majority of the employees in a bargaining unit who voted in a secret ballot election.” The standard should be “a majority of the members of the designated bargaining unit, as demonstrated in a secret-ballot election.”  It also illegally allows card-check recognition rather than secret-ballot election as required by Virginia law.

Furthermore, the resolution stacks the deck against recalling unwanted union representative while 51 percent of employees are required to get a decertification election, only 30 percent are required to demand a certification election. Several other parts of the resolution appear in violation of the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision Janus v. AFSCME, which declared public-sector forced-unionism schemes to be a violation of the First Amendment.

Prince William County Republican Committee Chairman Denny Daugherty reminds us that the PWEA “…is the organization which insisted on closing our schools for two years, tragically setting back the learning of tens of thousands of county children.  Giving them more influence in decision making is a formula for keeping the schools from focusing on reforms necessary to live up to the county’s claim to offer world class education.” 

In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt warned that, “all Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service…. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives.”