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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
|Should sign a card||Should sign a card|
|Pays dues||Does not pay dues|
|Can vote for REA to be collective bargaining agent||Can vote for REA to be collective bargaining agent|
|Can vote for bargaining priorities||Cannot vote for bargaining priorities|
|Can vote for bargaining representatives||Cannot vote for bargaining representatives|
|Can vote on the final contract||Cannot vote on the final contract|
Terms to Know:
|Authorization Card||This 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 Agent||The 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 Representative||Democratically 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 Unit||A 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 Bargaining||The 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 Resolution||This 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 Election||The process by which a group of employees (a bargaining unit) decides whether they want the union (REA) to represent them during contract negotiations.|