PWEA Ratifies 1st Collective Bargaining Agreement in Virginia

Guarantees pay for supplemental activities, loss of planning


Prince William Education Association [PWEA], the largest public-sector education local representing over 11,000 educators in Prince William County Schools [PWCS], has announced the ratified the first “and strongest” Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in Virginia history for Educators.

“This historic three-year CBA secures better wages, benefits, and working conditions and provides PWCS Educators with a better work/life balance. This CBA will enable PWCS to attract and retain high-quality educators and ensure that all students and staff will thrive in the coming years,” said PWEA leadership.

The agreement strengthens teacher contracts, improving disability coverage, and healthcare care costs, plus guarantees stipends for certain activities that exceed the educator's contract agreement. For instance, it promises to pay teachers when they substitute during their planning periods. This has become a huge for teachers during this time of teacher and substitute shortage.

PWEA leadership believes the changes are good for existing teachers, but also will help the county attract and retain educators. 

Maggie Hansford, PWEA President, praised all union members for fighting for their profession. 

“Congratulations to the over 11,000 PWCS Educators represented at the bargaining table! The PWEA leadership team looks forward to planning and training staff on the CBA, as well as, working with the School Division in preparing and implementing the Labor/Management Committee to begin work in July,” Hansford said.

The first-ever ratified CBA for PWCS Educators includes:

● Short-term disability coverage for ALL staff to ensure the health and retention of staff for our students.
● Healthcare costs will remain stable without employee-paid increases for three years to ensure the health and retention of staff for our students.
● Educators will be paid for teaching during planning periods if required due to the substitute shortage to ensure daily learning for our students.
● Summer school pay increased to ensure quality education year-round for our students.
● Stipend increases for ALL coaches and staff to ensure the success and safety of our students.
● Stipends now include compensation for ALL music educator's performances and clubs for our students.
● Paid orientation for ALL new employees to ensure fully trained staff for our students.
● Labor/Management Committee to address concerns in our schools, benefiting staff and our students.
● The ability to represent school employees during meetings to aid with retention and benefit our students.
● Annual wage reopener to negotiate compensation to help fully staff our schools and benefit our students.

The ratification process is significant since Virginia Teachers only earned the right to unionize in 2020, with the law only taking effect in 2021.  Before that, teacher associations could organize, but not collectively bargain.

However, even after 2021, collective bargaining proved challenging as there was little state-provided guidance on how to proceed. Unions and school boards had to first formulate the rules of the negotiation. 

The ratification signals the Prince William School Board's unofficial approval of the contract for Fiscal Year 24-25, following negotiations between the parties. The Prince William County School Board will need a majority board vote to finalize the new contract agreement, which could come at the March 14 school board meeting. 

The association hopes the board will approve it by the end of the month, so all parties will be prepared for the contract to take effect on July 1, 2024.

“PWEA leadership is proud to have successfully led the first ratification vote in Prince William County. Thank you to all our members who took the time to understand and vote on their first contract in the history of Prince William County. I am honored to continue to make history with you for the betterment of our students and all staff,” Hansford said. “I also hope that the tremendous accomplishments we achieved at the bargaining table will serve as a strong example for the rest of our Virginia Education Association [VEA] members and other educators across the state
She thanked the National Education Association [NEA] for its continuing support, and specifically Brian Beallor, NEA staff member, and Broderick Dunn, PWEA Attorney, “who continue to help us navigate collective bargaining.”

PWEA Vice President Katie Jefferson, also a proud mother, thanked new and veteran members for standing behind the PWEA as members negotiated their first contract on behalf of 11,000 members. She notes that when teachers win, students win.

“We aim to improve our community by strengthening our public schools because teachers' working conditions are students' learning conditions. We have a long road ahead of us, but we are willing to ensure our students have fully staffed schools by helping to maintain the dignity and respect of all Employees we represent," Jefferson said.

PWEA's attorney also felt the accomplishment will make a significant difference for educators. 

“As a product of Prince William County Schools and the son of a retired PWCS educator, I could not be more proud of what PWEA Leadership, PWEA members, and PWCS employees have achieved. Bravo!" said PWEA Attorney Broderick Dunn.

While celebrating the contract ratification, PWEA leadership also acknowledged educators have charged the PWCS School Board with unfair labor practices.

According to the association, the charges include areas in the contract related to employee rights, wages, leave and other duties, as assigned. 

“We await the decision from the arbitrator in hopes that educators in PWCS can have a voice with meaningful bargaining to include more comprehensive aspects of wages, benefits, and working conditions, further strengthening recruitment and retention to make PWCS the destination school division in the State of Virginia,” said a PWEA spokesperson.

A spokesperson for PWEA said the association cannot comment further on that ongoing matter. 

PWEA, Prince William Education Association, contract, contract ratification, contract, negotiations, teachers, educators, Prince William County Schools, collective bargaining, teachers unions, teachers union, Virginia, Maggie Hansford, Katie Jefferson, Broderick Dunn