As we race towards Sine Die, two bills changing provisions of the code related to collective bargaining for public employers and employees appear headed towards conference committee and then final votes on the floor of the House and Senate possibly as late as Saturday. HB 582 (Guzman) and SB 939 (Saslaw) both allow collective bargaining for public employees under certain conditions with major differences between them, most importantly the preemption of local option for local governing bodies and the imposition of unfunded mandates. The final version of these bills is unknown at this time, but preserving the authority of local governments in this matter remains imperative.
As previously reported, VACo opposes any effort to mandate collective bargaining for public employees, and has spoken in, and urged opposition to HB 582. VACo has taken no position on SB 939, but appreciates amendments made by the patron to maintain local authority and continue the prohibition on public employees striking. Both bills have journeyed far through the House and Senate with significant actions taken by each chamber.
HB 582 was passed by the House 54-45 on February 6 and sent to the Senate. The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee reported and referred the bill to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee with a substitute that conformed it to the language contained in SB 939 as engrossed by the Senate. This language is permissive and preserves the local option to engage in collective bargaining with local governing bodies. Most recently, the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee reported the bill, 8-3, on March 2. The bill now awaits debate on the Senate floor. Passage of the bill as substituted by the Senate is likely, which means that it will be sent back to the House, who will likely reject the Senate substitute, returning HB 582 to the problematic version that VACo opposes.
SB 939 was passed by Senate, 21-19, on February 11 and sent to the House. The House Labor and Commerce Committee reported the bill with a substitute that conformed it to the language contained in HB 582 as engrossed by the House. As the proposed House budget contained amendments that the House contends cover the state costs of implementing a Public Employee Relations Board and providing legal support from the Office of the Attorney General, the bill was reported directly to the floor of the House and engrossed. The bill was then sent to the Senate who unanimously rejected the House’s language 0-40 on March 2. The bill now awaits action by the Senate and then the House once HB 582 returns to the House with any Senate amendments.
As the House and Senate will have amended each of these bills and the chamber of origin will have disagreed with the amendments, a conference committee most likely consisting of three members of each legislative body will be formed to resolve the differences and conflicts between the bills. The last day to place the bills in conference is March 5. This means we can expect the House and Senate to name their conferees at that time. As we do not yet know who will be named to the conference committee, what the final bill language will be, and when a final vote will be taken, members are urged to contact their legislators, especially Senators to express their opposition to HB 582 and any legislative language that would mandate collective bargaining.
House of Delegates – Email all Delegates at once
Senate of Virginia – Email all Senators at once
VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett