Dogwood Download: Things You Should Know For April 21

By Megan Schiffres

April 21, 2021

Alexandria adopts Virginia’s first collective bargaining ordinance, Virginia’s First Lady visits Valley schools, and a biotech firm is bringing jobs.

Daily Number

0.2 – That’s what you get when you divide 4 by 20, or 4/20. Virginians participating in yesterday’s celebrations were doing so on the last year that the holiday remains illegal in the Commonwealth’s history. On July 1, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by people over the age of 21 will be legal in Virginia.

RELATED: Virginia’s General Assembly Legalized Marijuana. What Does The Law Say?

Alexandria City Council Adopts Collective Bargaining Ordinance

The city of Alexandria just became the first Virginia jurisdiction to pass an ordinance allowing city employees to collectively bargain. That was on Saturday, according to reporting by Alexandria Living Magazine.

Employees of the city can now bargain with Alexandria about workplace issues including their pay and benefits. However, according to the magazine, the city is retaining the right to defund union agreements in times of true need. Those times include a recession or a pandemic.

Collective bargaining existed in 19 localities in Virginia, including Alexandria, in the 1970s. However, in 1977, the Supreme Court issued a ruling barring local governments from collective bargaining with employees.

Now, a new law passed by the General Assembly last year will once again allow collective bargaining for government workers. However, in order to do this, the governing body of the entity whose employees are petitioning to start collectively bargaining with must first approve an ordinance giving them the right to do so. The group petitioning that entity also has to have the signatures of a majority of its public employees before they can request the right to collectively bargain.

According to ALX Now, the Alexandria City Council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance allowing its employees to collectively bargain.

“It’s really great step forward for our employees. And they provide the quality of life that we all here enjoy,” City Councilman Mo Seifeldein told ALX Now.

First Lady of Virginia Visits Shenandoah Valley Schools

The First Lady of Virginia, Pamela Northam, visited several schools in the Shenandoah Valley region of the Commonwealth Tuesday.

According to reporting by WHSV, the first lady was there not only to visit with students and teachers. She was also there to educate the public on the Commonwealth’s recent efforts to expand childcare access.

Governor Northam announced earlier this month that $203.6 million in federal stimulus funds is going to Virginia’s Child Care Subsidy Program. This program supports early childhood care and education in the Commonwealth.

This funding will support children in need of financial assistance and increase absence days for families who’ve had to quarantine. It will also provide funding for grants to increase childcare access in underserved communities.

“Early educators have been diligent and dedicated to keeping children safe and meeting the needs of our youngest Virginians since the early days of this public health crisis,” said Governor Northam. “As we emerge from the pandemic, the strength of our recovery will depend upon our ability to help families return to the workforce and provide quality, affordable options for early childhood care and education. These additional investments will help address the challenges child care providers are facing and ensure we can continue to deliver critical resources to those most in need now and into the future.” 

According to the governor, nearly 90% of childcare center programs have reopened.

The first lady said yesterday that it’s exciting to see students back in class.

“It has been amazing getting to see our students back doing in-person learning has been so wonderful. It’s exciting to see them, they’re excited to be back with their friends and teachers,” Northam told WHSV. “The teachers, the school personnel are all doing it so safely.”

Celebrating 4/20 Responsibly in Virginia

Biotech Firm Coming to Richmond, Virginia

250 new jobs are coming to Richmond, according to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

Northam said in an announcement Tuesday that Grenova Inc., a biotech company whose mission is “to lower costs in the laboratory industry and reduce biohazard waste in the environment by delivering ground-breaking approaches in dealing with plastic consumables,” is relocating to the capital city soon.

According to the governor’s statement, the company designs and manufactures devices that wash and sterilize contaminated materials for reuse. Their move to Richmond will bring the city 250 new jobs over the next three years. In addition, they’ll make an investment of $10.6 million in the city to expand Grenova’s operations in Richmond.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this homegrown sustainable biotech firm expanding and adding to its workforce in Richmond,” said Governor Northam. “It is remarkable to see Virginia’s innovative life sciences businesses quickly adapt and respond to critical needs as we fight this pandemic. Grenova is an emerging industry leader that has achieved exponential growth in a short time, and I applaud the company for leveraging its technology and expertise to address a global shortage and reduce environmental waste.”

Monday’s Trivia Answer: It’s a Long Way Down

On Tuesday, we asked a deep question. What is the average depth of the Atlantic Ocean? The answer is 10,925 feet. If you go all the way down, it’s got a maximum depth of 27,493 feet. That’s the Puerto Rico Trench, just off the island.

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