Senate District 15 (Southside Virginia)
- Virginia is one of only 9 states in the country that deny state public sector employees their right to bargain collectively. If elected, will you vote yes on legislation granting all public sector workers, including graduate student workers, in Virginia collective bargaining rights?
- How will you work to ensure that every public employee has full and fair collective bargaining rights?
I have supported public employee collective bargaining rights in past sessions and hope to introduce legislation during this upcoming 2024 session, if we have some degree of optimism that we will have greater support in the General Assembly.
- UCW-VA believes all education, including early childhood education (birth-5), is a right and a public good. UCW-VA believes that childcare and early education centers should be publicly funded and run and offer high-quality care and education and good jobs for employees, including living wages, healthcare, and a retirement plan. Will you champion free, universal access to high-quality, public education for all Virginians?
- How will you work to ensure access to free, high-quality early childhood education in publicly-funded, publicly-run centers that offer employees living wages and good benefits?
I have been working on this issue with UCWVA members. We introduced a budget amendment to support expanded services for VCU workers. I plan to continue working on the concerns for accessible and high-quality early childhood education.
- Do you support passing legislation to raise employment standards for all public sector employees, including a minimum wage of at least $20 an hour or $40,760 annually, access to quality health insurance, paid sick leave, and a livable retirement plan?
- How will you raise employment standards for all public sector employees in Virginia?
All workers, including public sector employees, should receive a livable wage, access to quality health insurance, paid sick leave, and retirement. I will continue to advocate for these supports, and work through legislative/budget efforts to achieve these goals.
- In Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, and Nevada higher education board members are selected by popular vote, as in K-12 governance. Given that higher education in Virginia has been largely deregulated over the last few decades, what measures would you take to give Virginians more control over their public institutions of higher education?
I will continue to nominate and push for diverse board and commission appointees for our colleges and universities, for the State Council of Higher Education, and for community colleges. Diversity of perspectives and more full representation — rather than simple political appointments — are necessary for public engagement, involvement, and voice in our higher education systems.
- What else would you like our members to know about your commitment to workers’ rights and public education?
As a former college professor, I am very aware of the concerns and issues that face campus workers, most especially our graduate student employees, adjunct faculty, and campus staff. Better pay, benefits, and equitable access to shared governance is vital. Additionally, as Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Public Education, I continue to be heavily engaged in protecting public education and higher education from those who are seeking to defund and devalue our education systems. I will continue to be a strong voice for educators, staff, and students.