Richmond, VA Local 995 members and other city employees now have the right to unionize and collectively bargain. The Richmond City Council voted 8-0 in favor of the ordinance on July 25. 

“Everyone benefits when we go to the table and use our voice,” says General President Edward Kelly. “I applaud the Local 995 leadership and our brothers and sisters in Richmond who worked so hard to make this happen. I know you’ll use the same grit and determination as you negotiate your first contract.” 

“The road to collective bargaining was a difficult one, but our Local 995 brothers and sisters did not back down. They remained strong and focused until the ordinance was passed,” says 4th District Vice President Andrew Pantelis. “Now they will have their rightful seat at the table as decisions are made impacting their wages, benefits and working conditions.”

Collective bargaining had been banned in Virginia since 1977 after the state Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. The Virginia Professional Fire Fighters (VPFF) and its affiliates pushed for years to bring it back. 

Legislation giving local governments the option to create ordinances recognizing their employees’ labor unions and allowing collective bargaining passed in 2020. The law went into effect in May 2021.  

Shortly thereafter, Richmond Local 995 and the other city unions began talking with the city and crafting ordinance language. But it would take several months for the two sides to come to an agreement.

“This was hard work, but it will be worth it as we work toward a brighter future using the collective bargaining process,” says Richmond Local 995 President Keith Andes. “Local 995 is looking forward to representing the interests of our Richmond Fire Department brothers and sisters and the city’s Department of Emergency Services personnel.” 

The ordinance recognizes five groups: fire and emergency services, police, labor and trades, professional (general) and administrative and technical employees. 

The city has 120 days to select a labor relations administrator who will serve as a neutral negotiator between the city and bargaining agent. 

Meanwhile, Local 995 can submit an official request with Richmond’s Chief Administrative Officer Lincoln Saunders to be the sole bargaining unit for fire fighters and emergency service personnel, including dispatchers.  

Richmond Local 995 joins a growing list of IAFF locals in Virginia which now have collective bargaining. The other IAFF locals on that list are Alexandria Local 2141, Arlington County Local 2800, Fairfax County Local 2068 and Loudoun County Local 3756.