Labor Relations Administrator

Charlottesville Collective Bargaining Ordinance (CBO)

It is the public policy of the City of Charlottesville to promote a harmonious and cooperative relationship between the City government and its employees to ensure that the workforce is positioned to efficiently meet demands and deliver exceptional services to the community and stakeholders.  Unresolved disputes in public service are harmful to the employees and the public, and adequate means should be available for preventing disputes and for resolving them when they occur.  To that end, it is in the public interest that employees have the opportunity to bargain collectively in good faith, without interference of the orderly processes of government and subject to the limitations of the City’s annual budget and appropriations. 

Labor Relations Administrator

The Labor Relations Administrator (LRA) is an experienced professional appointed to impartially administer and make determinations concerning the Charlottesville Collective Bargaining Ordinance (CBO).  The LRA is responsible for drafting and adopting Procedures Related to the Collective Bargaining Ordinance, Sections 19-201 Through 19-218 (“LRA Procedures”).  Pursuant to the CBO and the Procedures, the LRA serves as a neutral agency to administer the CBO.  The duties of the LRA include: overseeing elections, determining unresolved issues related to the inclusion in or exclusion from the identified bargaining units; assisting the parties, as appropriate and delineated in the CBO and LRA Procedures, in resolving collective bargaining impasses and other labor-management disputes; and resolving prohibited practice charges.  The LRA serves as a resource to stakeholders, providing information related to the processes outlined in the CBO and LRA Procedures. 

Sarah Miller Espinosa was appointed on February 24, 2023, to serve as the City of Charlottesville LRA and may be contacted at:

Bargaining Units 

Per Section 19-204, the following bargaining units are authorized to be represented by an Exclusive Bargaining Representative following a secret ballot election and in accordance with the timetable outlined in the CBO:

  • Police: all sworn uniformed employee of the Charlottesville Police department, except those excluded under Section 19-202;
  • Fire: all sworn uniformed employees of the Charlottesville Fire Department, except those excluded under Section 19-202;
  • Transit: all regular full-time and part-time operators and maintenance employees of the Charlottesville Area Transit and the pupil transportation department, except those excluded under Section 19-202;
  • Labor and Trades: all regular full-time and part-time employees associated with maintenance and skilled crafts, i.e., job classes of workers performing duties that result directly in the comfort and convenience of the general public, or contribute to the maintenance of capital assets, land and infrastructure of the City, excluding any otherwise eligible employees outlined for participation in the Transit Unit and those excluded under Section 19-202;
  • Administrative and Technical: all regular and full-time and part-time employees of the City who are administrative employees or technical employees or who perform office support work, except those excluded under Section 19-202;
  • Professional:  non-supervisory and non-managerial employees within the definition of “professional employee” as set forth in Section 19-202, except those excluded under Section 19-202.

Petitions & Secret Ballot Elections

In the event an Employee Organization files a petition seeking a secret ballot election, the LRA will verify the evidence provided meets the criteria established in the CBO, direct notices be posted to provide information about the process to eligible voters, and oversee a secret ballot election.  If the majority of voters elect to be represented by the Employee Organization, the LRA will follow the processes outlined in the CBO to certify the Employee Organization as the Exclusive Bargaining Representative.   The City will then recognize the Exclusive Bargaining Representative in accordance with the timetable established in the CBO.

For at least one year following the adoption of the CBO, the City shall recognize up to three potential bargaining units in accordance with Section 19-210.  Beginning in the second year following adoption of the CBO, additional bargaining units may be recognized by the City at a rate of one new bargaining unit per calendar year consistent with Section 19-210.  By the fourth year following adoption of the CBO, all the potential bargaining units will be eligible for recognition by the City.

Employee Rights

Per Section 19-205, Employees (as defined in Section 19-202) have the following rights:

  • Right to organize, form, join assist, and pay dues or contributions to employee organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection, in so far as such activity is not inconsistent with the CBO or prohibited by any other applicable law;
  • Right to request representation by a representative of their certified bargaining unit and have such representative present during any investigative interview conducted by the City in its role as employer if the eligible employee reasonably believes that such interview involves a matter that could lead to the employee’s discipline;
  • Employees may use the City electronic mail, telephone, facsimile transmission, or other communications systems owned by the City to discuss employee organization business or activities or employee organizing activities.  However, the City remains the owner of such communications systems, and no employee shall have any expectation of privacy in the use of such a communication system;
  • Employee Organizations have the right to meet with bargaining unit employees on the premises of the City in designated spaces during times when the employees are on break or in a non-duty status, in accordance with generally applicable City policies.  This section shall not be applied or interpreted in a manner that prohibits casual non-disruptive conversation among or between employees in the workplace.

City’s Rights and Authority

Per Section 19-206, the City has the following rights and authority:

  • To fully manage and direct the operations and activities of the City as authorized and permitted by law.  The City retains their respective exclusive rights as delineated in Section 19-206 (a);
  • No provision of the CBO shall act to interfere with or impair the free speech and association rights of the City Manager or the members of City Council.  No prohibited practice charge may be brought because of the exercise of those rights so long as such expression or speech contains no threat of reprisal or promise of benefits.
  • Discretion to voluntarily discuss with the Exclusive Representative any matter concerning the City’s exercise of any its exclusive rights.

Exclusive Bargaining Representative’s Rights

Per Section 19-212, Exclusive Bargaining Agents are:

  • Permitted to speak on behalf of all members of the bargaining unit, and responsible for representing the interests of all members of the bargaining unit without discrimination based on any legally protected characteristic and without regard to employee organization membership;
  • Entitled to meet at reasonable times and places to engage in good faith collective bargaining on matters that, under the CBO, may be the subject of collective bargaining, in an effort to reach an agreement, subject to the approval of the City Manager;
  • Entitled to receive upon request a list of the names of all bargaining unit employees, provided that such a request shall occur no more than once per month, unless alternative arrangements are agreed to in a collective bargaining agreement.
  • Afforded an opportunity to be present at any meetings held to adjust a personal complaint, concern or question presented by an individual employee.  Any adjustment made shall not be inconsistent with the terms of any applicable collective bargaining agreement.  Such employees who utilize this avenue of presenting personal complaints, concerns or questions to the City shall not do so under the name, or by representation, of an employee organization.

Prohibited Practice Charges

In the event a party alleges the City or Exclusive Bargaining Agent committed a prohibited practice as enumerated in Section 19-214, the party may file a prohibited practice charge (PPC) within 180 days of the alleged violation or acquiring knowledge of the alleged violation. To file, the party will complete the PPC Form and submit the charge by email to the LRA with a copy to the accused party in accordance with the CBO and LRA Procedures.