REA Resolution FAQ

Note: We know unions use a lot of jargon. It’s easy to get confused by all of the specific terms, so we put together a list at the end of this FAQ to help you better understand the union and our processes. If you ever have any questions that aren’t answered here, please contact us!

The school board passed the collective bargaining resolution. What does that mean for me?

At the moment, RPS employees have the RIGHT to collectively negotiate their contracts. But that does not mean educators HAVE a collectively negotiated contract. 

In order to be able to negotiate, a group of employees (called a bargaining unit) must certify a union as their bargaining agent. We do this by collecting authorization cards and then holding a secret ballot election where we need you to vote Union Yes if you want REA to be your bargaining agent. From there, REA and the elected bargaining representatives will collectively bargain a contract with the school board. See the following question for a more detailed explanation of the process.

What are the next steps to collective bargaining?

  1. Sign your authorization card: Although many educators have already completed this step, we still need more RPS employees to sign their cards. Without enough cards, we cannot hold an election, so signing your card is a vital step to this campaign.
  2. Vote Union Yes: Once we have enough cards, we can hold an election for the bargaining agent. This is where we want you to vote for REA to be your bargaining agent in a secret ballot election. The date and time of the election will be sent to you via email. All RPS Employees, not just members, will vote in this election.
  3. Join the REA: If you want to have a say in the bargaining priorities, your bargaining representative, and the ability to vote on the contract, you should join REA. Only members will get a voice on this process.
  4. Set Priorities and Elect Reps: REA members will democratically elect their bargaining representatives (the members who will negotiate with the school board representative) and vote for the issues they want to bargain over in our first contract.

How is a collectively bargained contract different than what we have now?

A collectively bargained contract is a legally binding document that will give REA members a say in their working conditions. This means the school board/school administrators/your supervisor cannot make unilateral changes to the terms and conditions that have been negotiated in the contract. For example: If the contract says that licensed teachers always get 30 minutes of uninterrupted planning time, teachers cannot be asked to cover others’ classes or work on anything other than planning during that time.

How long will the contract last?

The first contract can last up to 3 years

What can we bargain for?

The union can choose two priorities to negotiate. These priorities can be anything provided they are not illegal. For example: We could negotiate for higher wages and uninterrupted prep time. Or, we could negotiate for better benefits and smaller class sizes. We CANNOT bargain for the right to strike, this is state law.

Who bargains the contract? Who actually talks to the school board to decide what the contract says?

REA members will democratically elect bargaining representatives who will be chosen from bargaining unit members (i.e. Licensed Teachers will choose representatives who are also Licensed Teachers; Food Service Workers will choose representatives who are also Food Service Workers.) REA and VEA staff members will also be at the table to assist the democratically elected bargaining representatives negotiate an agreement that meet our interests.

Who decides what we bargain for?

Richmond Education Association members will be able help set bargaining priorities, vote for bargaining representatives, and the final contract.

How do I know if I am an REA Member?

You can contact us to find out if you are a member:

How do I become a member?

Click here to fill out the membership form!

What’s the deal with signing an authorization card? What does it do? How does it work? Who should do it?

What does it do? 

Signing a card simply tells the school board that you want to have a collectively bargained contract. If we get enough cards, we can tell the school board to hold an election so REA can become the bargaining agent for a group of employees.

Who should sign? 

All RPS employees should sign an authorization card. That means both REA members and non-members should sign a card. 

How much does it cost? 

It does not cost anything. Signing is FREE, but a good contract means we need all RPS employees to join.

DO I have to be a member to sign? 

No, this is not a membership form. Signing does not make you a member and you do not have to be a member to sign. If we want a good contract, we need all RPS employees to join.

Summary of the Bargaining Differences between REA Members and Non-Members:

REA MemberNon-Member
Should sign a cardShould sign a card
Pays duesDoes not pay dues
Can vote for REA to be collective bargaining agentCan vote for REA to be collective bargaining agent
Can vote for bargaining prioritiesCannot vote for bargaining priorities
Can vote for bargaining representativesCannot vote for bargaining representatives
Can vote on the final contractCannot vote on the final contract

Terms to Know:

Authorization CardThis is what you should sign if you want REA to be the union that helps educators negotiate their contracts. It does not cost anything to sign and we need as many RPS employees as possible to sign if we want to be able to negotiate our contracts. 
Bargaining AgentThe Richmond Education Association
If enough RPS employees in a bargaining unit vote “Union Yes” in the secret ballot election, Richmond Education Association will be the bargaining agent for that bargaining unit. Everyone (not just members) will get to vote in this election.
Bargaining RepresentativeDemocratically Elected Members
If REA is the bargaining agent, then REA members will democratically elect the members who actually sit down at the table to talk with the school board. 
Bargaining UnitA group of similar employees who will all be covered by the same contract. For our purposes, we expect to have a bargaining unit of all employees on a teacher’s pay scale, a bargaining unit of Food Service Workers, and a bargaining unit of all other ESPs which includes bus drivers, custodians, office assistants, and more.
Collective BargainingThe process by which educators can negotiate wages, hours, and working conditions with the school division. Bargaining collectively means that one individual does not have to sit down across from the school board to try to negotiate on her own. As a group, educators have more power and are more likely to win a better contract for all involved.
Collective Bargaining ResolutionThis is the resolution that the school board just passed on Monday, December 6th (this was in the news). The resolution gives educators the RIGHT to negotiate their contracts collectively, but it does not mean educators now have a better contract.
Secret Ballot ElectionThe process by which a group of employees (a bargaining unit) decides whether they want the union (REA) to represent them during contract negotiations.

REA Wins Collective Bargaining!

For Immediate Release
December 7, 2021


RICHMOND, VA — In a historic moment, the Richmond City School Board voted 8-1 in favor of the collective bargaining resolution that will allow educators to collectively negotiate their contracts. It has been 44 years since Richmond educators have had the right to collectively negotiate their contract—a right educators in the majority of other states already enjoy. Now, the Richmond Education Association (REA) hopes to become the bargaining representative for nearly 4,000 educators.

It has taken more than a year of patient grassroots organizing for educators to convince the school board to pass the resolution. After organizing rallies, trainings, collecting authorization cards, and petition signatures, the REA successfully pressured the school board into passing the resolution.

Collective bargaining or collective contract negotiations allow working people—organized in a labor union—to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment with their employer. In other states, educators use this right to advocate for smaller class sizes, more planning time, adequate classroom technology and better wages and benefits, which attracts better educators to the area. The resolution that was passed last night allows for a contract to be created that could potentially cover all of these subjects.

Over the last two months, Richmond Public Schools employees have been attending school board meetings to advocate for their right to negotiate their contracts. Educators told the school board about working two jobs and not being given a raise in ten years. One teacher explained that her classroom chairs were replaced with uncomfortable, poorly designed stools that tip students out of their seats. Another teacher told the school board that as a preschool teacher she is expected to prepare her students’ lunches, but isn’t given time to eat lunch herself, so she spends nine hours at work without eating.

All of these stories illustrate what educators have been saying for years: Educators’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions. With the right to collectively negotiate their contracts, educators can work with the school board to find solutions to these problems and create learning environments where all students can thrive.

Of course, this doesn’t automatically mean educators have a contract. In the following months, educators will be required to elect a bargaining representative through a secret ballot election and will then begin the process of creating their first contract. While there are still many steps to go, the passage of this resolution is a milestone that educators should celebrate.


Rally for Collective Bargaining

MEDIA ADVISORY for Monday, December 6

Contact: Boaz Young-El,, (804) 837-3928
RICHMOND, VA —  The Richmond Education Association (REA) is holding a rally at the school board meeting on Monday, December 6th at 5:30 p.m. at 1000 Mosby St. to demand that the board immediately reinstate collective bargaining rights for all employees in our district. The REA has called upon all Richmond Public School (RPS) employees and community members to attend this event and defend the basic rights of educators. We are demanding that a vote be held regarding the collective bargaining resolution without further delay.
Collective bargaining is the extension of democracy into our workplaces. Through collective bargaining, working people negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment. For public education workers, this process routinely improves issues such as teacher recruitment and retention, job security, pay and benefits, working hours, health and safety issues, planning time, and classroom size. Given that long-standing grievances have been exacerbated by the wave of resignations and vacancies induced by the pandemic, giving educators a voice in their work lives is an urgent concern. All public education workers know that our working conditions are the learning conditions of our students. With more of a say in our workplaces, we can leverage our collective power to improve the quality of public education for all. 
Good education for our children serves the people of Richmond. For this reason, the REA and our community supporters are demanding that the Richmond School Board vote “YES” on collective bargaining.
What: Rally to defend, transform, and improve Richmond Public Schools.
Who: Richmond Education Association (REA), educators, families, and community supporters.
When: Monday December 6th, 5:30 PM.
Where: Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, 1000 Mosby St. Richmond, VA.


Summer Collective Bargaining Q&A

The REA is organizing another round of virtual Collective Bargaining Q & A sessions. We will discuss the recent law change, and the opportunity it presents for RPS employees. Register using the links below!

July 14th at 11:30 a.m.

July 30th at 11:30 a.m.

August 11th at 6:00 p.m.


Collective Bargaining in Richmond

For decades, the Richmond Education Association (REA) has worked tirelessly to improve the working and learning conditions of our school communities. On May 1, 2021, Virginia state law § 40.1-57.2 went into effect, allowing collective bargaining for public school employees. The REA has worked in partnership with school leadership to improve the working conditions of our members. With the passage of this new law, we have an opportunity to further improve the lives of our students, communities, and employees. Our members realize that in order for Richmond to be a first-class capital city, we must invest in creating a school division that recruits and retains the highest-quality educational professionals. Our members understand that collective bargaining gives educational professionals a seat at the table, helping to retain strong educators and thereby building a stronger school division.  

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainties it has unleashed, we realize that although we have a good working relationship with RPS administration, we believe that a collective bargaining agreement with our employer will only serve to improve and strengthen this working relationship, and further benefit students, communities, and educational professionals. Had collective bargaining been in place prior to the pandemic, we would have had a direct say in helping to determine the policies, procedures, and plans to be implemented in response to the new challenges faced. 

If recognized as the Collective Bargaining Unit for Richmond’s educational workforce, we will work to maintain, deepen, and strengthen a democratic process in the governance of Richmond Public Schools. We will fight for a public education system in which all workers – alongside students, parents, and community members – are empowered to have a say in the decisions that affect them.  

Winning collective bargaining will give education workers a voice in our contract with RPS. However, our contract is about more than how much we get paid, or the days that we work. Our contract is also about the learning conditions of our students.  By building strong relations with students, parents, and community partners, the REA intends to use the collective bargaining process to address long-standing educational needs and social injustices in our city. 


Campaign Launch

The REA is proud to announce our campaign for collective bargaining in Richmond. Due to a recent change in state law that went into effect on May 1, 2021 (§ 40.1-57.2.), the REA has started a campaign to win collective bargaining agreements for RPS employees (members and non-members of the REA). If you support having the right to negotiate improvements in your wages, benefits, and working conditions, then sign an authorization card today!


Organize to Bargain!

This summer the REA is hosting regular Q & A sessions about collective bargaining in our district. These events are open to all RPS staff. You can register for a session below. Additional dates will be added soon!

6.16.21 REA: “Collective Bargaining Overview/Q & A Summer Session #2 (George Wythe High School)” Registration Form.

6.30.21 REA: “Collective Bargaining Overview/Q & A Summer Session #3 (Fox Elementary School)” Registration Form.


REA Elections

The REA will be electing a new Board of Directors for 2021. More information coming soon!


Black Lives Matter @ School

On Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 5:00 p.m., the REA will be sponsoring a roundtable discussion on why Black Lives Matter at school. Panelists will include REA member Beth Almore, and guest speaker Ronnie Almonte of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in New York City.