Supervisors Vote to Keep Unions Out of New Hire Materials

Supervisors voted along party lines to kill a proposal that would have let unions and other organizations outside county government include materials in the county’s packages for new hires.

Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) proposed county staff come up with a process to allow “non-affiliated third parties with a presence in Loudoun County” to place a one-page flyer in the county’s New Employee Orientation Packet at no cost to taxpayers.

Saines said the restrictions keep out organizations like the Loudoun Credit Union and the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union.

“To me, as an [human resources] person, I thought that was a little interesting,” Saines said. “There are a lot of different services out there that they [county employees] could benefit from.”

Representatives from the Police Benevolent Association, the Loudoun County Career Firefighters Association, and the local SEIU Virginia 512 all came to the meeting to speak in favor of Saines’ proposal.

“There seems to be resistance and unnecessary fear from some members of the community because this will potentially allow unions to place brochures into the new hire packet in an attempt to recruit new members,” said Loudoun Career Firefighters Association member Jeremy Mader. “Unions are already operating throughout Loudoun County government, and no one is forcing new employees to become new members, since Virginia is a right-to-work state.”

The firefighters’ association and the Loudoun chapter of the Police Benevolent Association make presentations to new hires in their fields during their training.

“Unions offer their members a vast amount of benefits if they join, including finance programs, legal assistance, life insurance, and various discounts, all of which would be beneficial to Loudoun County employees,” Mader said.

“These groups and associations could potentially provide resources and benefits to the employees that the county currently does not provide,” said Loudoun Police Benevolent Association President Sean Dikeman.

“I take on this challenge every day because what we do matters,” said Patti Nelson, who overseas nurses for the Loudoun Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Developmental Services. She is also the chairwoman of Loudoun’s SEIU Virginia 512. “We provide desperately needed care to our citizens, to our friends, to our neighbors.”

And Loudoun County Juvenile Courts probation office Julius Reynolds II said of the young people he supervises, “I know of no greater legacy to leave here on earth than to be a spoke on the continuum of success of these people’s lives.” But, he said, Loudoun’s employees to experience difficulties in the workplace, “whether it be with other coworkers or management.”

But those concerns fell on deaf ears among Republican supervisors.

“I think this is a solution in search of a problem,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “I have a hard time believing that any of the employee groups are not aware of any of the organizations that came before us tonight and spoke.”

He also said it would be dangerous for county staff to come up with a way to decide which organizations can get in: “This is a can of worms, and it places an unfair burden on county administration to start making value judgments about what is beneficial to county employees and what is not.”

Supervisor Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) argued that putting materials from outside organizations, including unions, would hurt the county’s ability to negotiate against its employees.

“Why would we negotiate against ourselves?” Buona said. “You would not find the board of directors of a Fortune 500 company telling human resources to put—I’m going to say it—union materials in the new hire packet.”

Supervisors voted 6-3 along party lines not to go ahead with Saines’s proposal.

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