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Richmond City Council approves three union agreements with employees

Richmond City Hall
Crixell Matthews
VPM News File
Richmond City Hall

A Richmond City Council vote on Monday approved labor agreements for city police and fire, and the administrative and technical employees bargaining units.

Bill Pantele, attorney and representative for the Richmond Coalition of Police union, opened public comment during the Monday meeting by explaining how long the agreement had been in the works.

“The police collective bargaining agreement came a long way. It's been a long fight. It's been over 40 years since city employees had the right to organize,” he said. “What you heard from so many employees was not just about wages — though, that's critically important to the families — but also their work conditions, in having a voice in the jobs that they do for you and for our citizens.”

Pantele was the sole commenter on all three CBAs, also known as union contracts.

”Yes, we've been fighting for over 20 some years for collective bargaining for all of our city employees,” Councilor Reva Trammell said. “We fought back in 1998. Here we are in 2023, we got it passed with the help of all my colleagues.”

The vote finalized negotiated contracts with RCOP, the International Association of Fire Fighters and Service Employees International Union, and comes after council first enabled unionization efforts in 2022. As VPM News previously reported, all organized units of employees selected their union representation in 2023 through elections.

Council President Kristen Nye said she’s proud of the work to pass the agreements: “We're really trailblazers in the commonwealth, in terms of collective bargaining.”

SEIU represents the administrative, technical and professional employees units; the International Association of Fire Fighters was selected by the fire and emergency services unit; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents labor and trades; and Richmond Police Department employees selected RCOP.

The professional, and labor and trades units will begin negotiating their agreement with the city in the next few weeks.

The agreements went into effect immediately following Monday’s 8–0 vote. Councilor Andreas Addison, who attended the meeting virtually, was not present during the voice vote.

Barry Greene Jr. is the Equitable Cities Reporting Fellow for Reparations Narratives.
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