RICHMOND, Va. -- A historic vote for educators in Richmond is happening this week.
On Friday and Saturday, educators will get to decide if they want a union to legally be able to have the same decision and negotiating power as the school board and the district. If passed they’ll become the first county in the state to do it.
Darrell Turner, a teacher and the vice president of the Richmond Education Association, is focused on their chance to make history.
“I hope the whole city turns out,” Turner said.
Turner said he plans to show up either on Friday or Saturday at Martin Luther King Junior Middle School to vote. Richmond educators will have the option to finalize if they want the Richmond Education Association to be the teacher's exclusive bargaining agent.
“We will actually have the power to negotiate our contracts. We will have a seat at the table that is equal to school board members and administration,” Turner said.
Recent state law in Virginia gave local school boards the authority to have a union become the employee's exclusive barging agent. The process is twofold. The district has to pass a resolution to begin the process. Richmond did this in December.
The district then holds a secret ballot vote after which the school board will then certify the election results.
“We are advocating for what our school and children need. We are the experts, we are the experts in the field every day and know what is going on,” said Turner.
Right now, the Richmond Education Association advocates on behalf of more than 1,200 educators. Boaz Young-El, the UniServe Director for the REA, said the there is, and has been, a union here in RPS but it is not at full power without this vote.
“We could represent them but essentially what we were enforcing was whatever the school board and district certified as policy,” Young-El said.
That’s why he and others believe this vote is vital. He said if passed, the REA will meet and select representatives to lead the charge and will then focus on negotiating for issues.
People can vote at Martin Luther King Junior Middle School from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m on Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
CBS6 reached out to the district and school board for comment on the issue and has not heard back.