LOUDOUN INVITES UNIONS
In the footsteps of Portsmouth (see last week’s VoxFairfax, Brief Cases), the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has invited unions to speak with county employees as a first step toward unionizing. Prior state law prohibited union organizing or collective bargaining agreements. However, with a new state law signed in April effective in May 2021, localities may elect to recognize collective bargaining representatives, allowing unions to negotiate on behalf of employees.
Labor associations and organizations with more than 100 members may now hold open houses twice per year at county government buildings in Leesburg and Sterling. This policy change was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Board of Supervisors. One member commented, “I’m not sure when unions became a bad word. If it were not for unions, we would not have a five-day work week, eight-hour days, holidays, paid time off, overtime, child labor laws in place, minimum wage, good benefits for employees—I could go on and on.”
The Commonwealth has entered a brave new world.
FAIRFAX GRAND JURY INDICTS TWO OFFICERS IN SHOOTING OF UNARMED DRIVER
In 2017, an unarmed motorist was shot to death by two Park Police officers after a stop on the George Washington Parkway in Virginia. The driver had been rear-ended in Alexandria and left the scene. Police followed and the driver stopped twice, driving away each time. On the third stop, police approached with guns drawn. The cruiser’s video shows the driver’s car inching toward one of the officers, whereupon nine shots were fired. The driver was unarmed.
The case drew widespread outrage on behalf of the 25-year-old victim over concerns of excessive force, concerns that were maintained during the three years of inquiry that involved not only Park Police but also the FBI, the Justice Department, Fairfax police, and the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney.
The Justice Department refused to cooperate or provide witnesses or crucial evidence in the case. Now, the two officers have been charged with manslaughter and reckless use of a firearm by a Fairfax County grand jury. Last year, federal prosecutors had declined to pursue criminal charges against the officers, saying their actions did not rise to the level of criminality. A civil suit against the officers has also been filed by the victim’s family.
The incident received increased attention in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and public discussion regarding qualified immunity favoring police conduct in fatal interactions.
PWC COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY WARNS VOTE FRAUDSTERS
The Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office “has become aware of allegations that people are attempting to ‘test the system’ by voting twice.” She went on, “The public deserves to know that regardless of what is said or inferred by any official, elected or otherwise, it remains illegal to vote twice in the same election in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” and said that any attempt at voter fraud or intimidation at local polling places will be prosecuted.
The warning was likely prompted by a small number of voting irregularities, mostly involving people mailing in ballots after voting early in-person. As with all Offices of Elections in the Commonwealth, in Prince William, a system is in place to catch mailed-in ballots by checking them against the Virginia Department of Elections database to ensure that the voter has not already cast a ballot in person.
In any event, these infractions are neither organized nor sufficiently significant to affect an election outcome. Voters can be confident in the vigilance of state officials and the electoral system.