Staff Assembly Message Re: Employee Organizing
W&M employees have the right to organize or form an employee association, but the scope of activities that such a group can engage in are more limited in Virginia than in some other states. Section 40.1-57.2 of the Code of Virginia prevents all state officers and governing bodies from engaging in collective bargaining. Under this law, W&M does not have the ability to recognize a union or employee association as a bargaining agent on behalf of public employees.
Virginia is a right to work state, which means that an individual’s right to work cannot be abridged or denied on account of membership or non-membership in a labor union or labor association. This policy expressly applies to public employers and employees, so W&M employees cannot be compelled to participate in a union as a condition of employment nor can they be disciplined or terminated for choosing to participate in a union. The laws articulating Virginia’s right to work policy can be found in Sections 40.1-58 through 40.1-69 of the Code of Virginia.
State law also prohibits Commonwealth employees from striking and imposes significant consequences for such actions. Section 40.1-55 of the Code of Virginia provides that any state employee who joins with two or more other employees to impede or suspend operation of their employing agency or to refuse to perform the duties of employment, shall, by such action, be deemed to have terminated their employment. Employees terminated in this manner are ineligible for employment by the Commonwealth in any position or capacity for the next twelve months.
Although W&M employees cannot strike or engage in collective bargaining, they have the ability to promote their interests to the university through other means. The Staff Assembly and the Faculty Assembly are the primary venues for communication and collaboration on topics of concern to employees across the institution. In addition to the normal structures of shared governance, institutional leadership are also holding community conversations and town halls on topics of immediate concern regarding operating during pandemic conditions. Employees are also strongly encouraged to bring workplace concerns to their supervisors.