Category Archives: Labor & workforce

May Day Brings Virginia’s Labor Revolution

“Liberty Leading the People,” Eugene Delacroix.

by Steve Haner

Four major changes in Virginia’s labor laws delayed at the beginning of the COVID-19 recession will all take effect May 1. All were approved by the 2020 General Assembly once Democrats controlled both legislative chambers and then delayed at the 2020 Veto Session. May Day 2021 is almost here.

Minimum Wage. The 31% increase in the state’s minimum wage, from $7.25 to $9.50 per hour, will have the broadest impact. House Bill 395 and Senate Bill 7 also raised the hourly minimum wage to $11 eight months later, on January 1, 2022, and to $12 a year later on January 1, 2023.  Continue reading

Virginia Will Mandate and Hold Retirement Savings

Click here for more information on the California state-run retirement fund that inspired the Virginia legislation. Source:  Georgetown Center for Retirement Incentives.

by Steve Haner

Next week’s reconvened General Assembly session will decide whether only full time employees of Virginia’s small businesses will be pushed into a new state-sponsored retirement savings plan, or part-time workers will join them there.  Continue reading

VEC Gets the Booby Prize

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

There has been considerable discussion on this blog as to which agency has been the biggest failure in the face of the pandemic. Many have placed the heaviest blame on the Department of Health. I would award the prize for the being the biggest failure to the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC).

The Department of Health certainly has had its problems and failures, but it has had to face a complex environment. For examples, it was dealing with a disease about which little was known at first, including its major method of transmission; the most vulnerable citizens were those in nursing homes, which are controlled by private owners; and it is dependent on other actors, such as hospitals and local health departments, for its data.

On the other hand, VEC has one primary mission—get out checks promptly to people who have lost their jobs. It largely failed at that job. Continue reading

Congress to Kill Right To Work, Since GA Didn’t?

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, savior of Virginia’s Right To Work Law?

by Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

One key goal for many of Virginia’s new progressive Democrats has been repeal of Virginia’s venerable Right To Work Law, and in 2020 they crossed one milestone by passing repeal in a key committee. But the Democratic leadership, perhaps wary of losing the bill in the Senate or angering too many moderate voters, ended the effort there and snuffed that bill. Continue reading

Podcast: How the General Assembly Has Changed

By Peter Galuszka

I haven’t contributed much to BR lately since I am slammed with non-Virginia work. I did manage to help out on a Podcast about how the General Assembly has changed the state over the last two years as Democrats have gained power.

This Podcast is produced by WTJU, the University of Virginia radio station. I do a weekly talk show on state politics and economics and, on occasion, work on Podcasts.

Joining me is Sally Hudson, a delegate from the Charlottesville area. She is Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Education and Economics. Sally studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford and is one of the youngest members of the General Assembly.

I hope you enjoy it.

COVID and the Workforce


by James A. Bacon

Virginians with college degrees were far less likely to be laid off during the COVID-19 epidemic, and their occupations are in highest demand during the economic upturn, concludes an analysis written by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and distributed by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

“In order to ensure an inclusive, resilient, COVID economic recovery and continued growth across Virginia,” writes Pam Harder, managing director-strategic talent initiatives for VEDP, ” now more than ever we need to invest heavily in helping those without four-year-degrees find affordable and accessible pathways to good jobs.”

Harder makes the case that Virginia needs to “invest in education across the entire spectrum — industry certifications, state licensures, apprenticeships and certificates, as well as traditional degree programs.” Continue reading

Buy Bacon’s Book

By Peter Galuszka

This is a shameless advertisement. Jim has written an excellent book and you should buy it and review it.

While some of Jim’s focus is at odds with a similar book I wrote eight years ago, “Maverick Miner” is a really well put together effort at research and writing.

In my reporting, I asked many people, mostly miners, what they thought about E. Morgan Massey. The response: tough on unions but good guy. I heard this over and over. I was told that if rank and file miners had a serious problem, they could call Morgan and he’d come to the mountains to work things out. I heard this a lot and it gives credence to Jim’s book.

You should buy the book, read it, and like it or not, post something on Amazon. Here’s something I did:

“In this book, Jim Bacon, a Richmond journalist, tells a fascinating story about 94-year-old E. Morgan Massey, the former head of coal company that would become highly controversial. Massey paid Bacon to write a private narrative about the Massey family and agreed to let Bacon write his own unabridged account. Taken as a biography and while understanding that this is from Massey’s viewpoint, the result works very well. Massey explains why he hired Donald L. Blankenship, who achieved remarkable notoriety as the boss of Massey Energy, a company spinoff. He ended up in federal prison. The book underestimates the human and environmental cost of coal mining in the Central Appalachians. It also takes Massey’s side in dissecting what caused the April 5, 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners – the worst such U.S. coal disaster in 40 years. Even so, Bacon’s access to internal sources and records is a welcome contribution to understanding a great story.

Peter Galuszka is author of “Thunder on the Mountain: Death At Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal.” (St. Martin’s Press, 2012)

What Texas’s Crisis Means for Virginia

by Peter Galuszka

The Texas freeze and ensuing energy disaster has clear lessons for Virginia as it sorts out its energy future.

Yet much of the media coverage in Virginia and certainly on Bacon’s Rebellion conveniently leaves out pertinent observations.

The statewide freeze in Texas completely fouled up the entire energy infrastructure as natural gas pipelines and oil wells stopped working, coal at generating plants iced over and wind turbines stopped working.

Making matters much worse, Texas opted not to have power links with other states. Its “free market” system of purchasing power meant utilities skimped on maintenance and adding weather-relative preventive measures such as making sure key generation components were weatherproof.

The result? Scores dead and millions without electricity. Here are more points worth considering in Virginia:

Climate Change is For Real

It is a shame that so much comment in Bacon’s Rebellion is propaganda from people who are or were paid, either directly or indirectly, by the fossil fuel industry. Thus, the blog diminishes the importance of dealing with climate change in a progressive way.  Continue reading

Mandate Teacher Vaccinations in Virginia

Louise Lucas, Chair, Senate Education and Health Committee photo credit: Virginian-Pilot

by James C. Sherlock

I wrote this morning about Virginia SENATE BILL NO. 1303 (Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute) Local school divisions; availability of virtual and in-person learning to all students.

The lengthy Democratic substitute to a one-sentence Republican bill was written over the weekend to provide political cover to the Democrats. Unfortunately, it did much more than that, all of it bad.

One provision states:

“Prior to the start of the 2021–2022 school year, all teachers and school staff shall be offered access to receive an approved COVID-19 vaccination through their relevant local health district.”

“Offered access.” I was asked by a reader whether I would recommend mandating teacher vaccinations.

My answer is yes. Continue reading

The Latest Lunacy: Face Masks for Fishermen

by Kerry Dougherty

Ever wonder what would happen if feminists, man buns and smoked salmon socialists crafted federal policy?

You’d get moronic rules like this one from the Biden administration:

One of Joe’s latest executive orders requires all commercial fishermen to wear face masks – including while asleep in their cramped berths – and the Coast Guard is charged with enforcing the regulation. Continue reading

Where Is the Outrage?

Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and House Clerk Suzette Denslow
Photo Credit: Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

I have waited all day for the howls of protest on this blog concerning the high-handed action of a House committee chairman who would not allow a bill even to be considered and voted on in committee. She just sat on it. Shades of Ed Willey! And we thought these Democrats were going to be transparent, but there has been no complaint from those who are usually so quick to condemn the legislature and its “plantation elite” ways.

Oh, wait. That was Lee Carter’s bill (HB 1755) that would have repealed the right-to-work law. I guess the conservatives on this blog are OK with such dictatorial behavior when it comes to bills they hate. And we thought those Democrats were going to be so liberal and wreck one of the state’s business-friendly pillars. Heck, they don’t even want to talk about it.

If a Delegate or Senator introduces a bill, he or she deserves the courtesy of at least a subcommittee presentation and vote. Chairmen should not be allowed to protect members from having to “go on the board.”

Here is the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s account of the Democratic leadership squelching Delegate Carter. You have to give him credit—he went down fighting and did not hesitate to take on his party’s leaders

Paid Leave and Paid Sick Days

by Chris Saxman

In a recent column called Hitting the Cutoff Man, I explained the need to work with the business community if you want to solve problems in our economy. I used the famous “There’s no crying in baseball!” scene from A League of Their Own.

The lesson was, if you have a goal in mind, the business community can be a strong ally in getting done in policy and politics what you are trying to achieve. We are here, like the cutoff man in baseball, to relay the throw home.

The Richmond Times Dispatch recently published two editorials that deal with issues relating to employment policies in Virginia — paid sick days and paid leave — that are being considered in legislation currently before the Virginia General Assembly. While certainly well intended, both op-eds fail to make their point. In doing so, they will likely unite business leaders and various trade associations to oppose their objectives.

It doesn’t have to be this way if they would just hit the cutoff. Successful politicians learn that politics is not about what you want, but rather what you are willing to give up to get what you want. Continue reading

Unintended Consequences of Minimum Wage Hikes

Credit: prescottenews

by James C. Sherlock

Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, and Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, contributed an op-ed titled Home health workers at risk without legislative action this morning in the Virginian-Pilot. They will be surprised to read that I agree with every word.

And that I would go farther.

Unintended consequences in the government economy

Lucas and Aird have authored a compelling, well-written narrative of the problems faced by home health workers and their employers under two Virginia programs that have not been reconciled:

  • the rise of the Virginia minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9.50 an hour, a 31% increase; and
  • the lack of a corresponding raise of the Medicaid reimbursement rate for home care workers.

As the legislators point out: Continue reading

There Is a God and He Has a Sense of Humor

President Biden. Credit: deadline.com

by James C. Sherlock

The Left won control of government in the most recent elections nationally and in Virginia. Elections indeed have consequences.

The focus on race instead of class by the newly victorious left will have major consequences here.

A combination of (1) Biden policies requiring antiracism training for federal workers and contractors; and (2) state requirements for biannual antiracism training for teachers and rewriting of syllabi to achieve antiracism together will be felt more heavily in Virginia, especially dark blue Northern Virginia, than anywhere else in the nation.

Virginia, because of its massive concentration of federal workers and contractors in Northern Virginia and military and contractors in Hampton Roads, will be the state most heavily effected by the new Biden administration policies.

Virginia’s education system is already in the midst of an antiracism transformation at the hands of the Governor, the General Assembly, the Department of Education, left-leaning school boards in districts like Albemarle County and left-wing schools of education in Virginia such as those of UVa and VCU.

I am going to use this essay primarily to offer commentary from the Left on what this means and whether it will work. Continue reading

Transdev Employees Seek to Reverse NLRB Ruling, Decertify OPEIU

Fairfax Connector bus

by James A. Bacon

Office workers with the Fairfax Connector are represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 2. This fall some employees wanted to hold an election to decertify the union, and they gathered the number of signatures required by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), but an NLRB director in Baltimore blocked the petition. Now the National Right to Work Foundation (NRW) has taken up the cause of the dissident employees.

Employee Amir Daoud is asking the NLRB to overturn the so-called “contract bar,” the non-statutory NLRB policy cited to halt the election. The contract bar forbids employees from ousting a union for up to three years after their employer and union finalize a bargaining contract.

Whatever the outcome of this particular petition, Virginia workers are likely to see more incidents like it. With Democrats in control of the General Assembly and all three statewide offices, organized labor is targeting the state’s Right to Work law, which allows employees of a bargaining unit to opt out of union membership. Continue reading