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Loudoun School Division Demanding Union Member Info Before Collective Bargaining

Sandy Sullivan, president of the Loudoun Education Authority, said the Loudoun Education Association is about to begin collective bargaining, but negotiations have come to a standstill because the school’s department is requesting classified membership information.

The LEA submitted a letter to the school board on October 19 explaining that the association had obtained the necessary membership to initiate collective bargaining in the form of authorization cards signed by teachers. The letter also asks the school board to adopt its resolution to allow collective bargaining.

Sullivan said members’ primary concern is privacy.

The worry is ‘Will my boss know? Sullivan said. “We’ve made it clear with all employees we spoke to that their information is confidential.”

But the school department, it seems, is unwilling to go ahead with the operation if that promise is kept.

“It is understood that the LCPS understands that to form certification that the majority of LCPS public employees in a unit these employees consider to be appropriate for public bargaining the LCPS needs to certify the accuracy of the information provided,” school department spokesperson Wade Bayard said in the email. Bayard said the information on the cards would be confidential. However, it is unclear who will deal with the cards in the department’s management.

The LEA’s solution is to have a third party certify the membership, though Sullivan said the school’s department would not acquiesce.

“We agree that if the school system wants to verify membership, that is reasonable. But it is our duty to protect the information of the employees who signed these cards. “We are in a place where they don’t want a third party, they want the cards.”

Due to the stagnation of negotiations, educators face difficult employment conditions while increasing the Omicron variant. School staff is overworked, and central office staff is sent to work in schools to cover classes and assignments. Sullivan said the increase in COVID-19 cases is exacerbating existing employment issues, including for surrogates and bus drivers.

Legislation in 2021 allowed Virginia public employees to engage in collective bargaining with employers. To represent a workforce, the union must demonstrate support from the majority of employees in a specific bargaining unit.

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