Local Commentary, National Commentary

Tuesday’s Primary & Our Workforce

Next Tuesday, June 20. is primary election day. Already, according to Falls Church registrar David Bjerke, over 10 percent of registered voters in the City of Falls Church have cast their ballots given new eased early-voting requirements, and there is no reason not to believe that the Little City will again lead all of Virginia with the highest voter turnout by the time polls close next Tuesday. While there are only two races on the ballot, and it being a party primary no less, the fact that both races have proven very contentious further suggests a high turnout.

 The News-Press announced its endorsements in the two races when early voting began last month, and all the subsequent heat and light has only deepened our commitment to those candidacies we’ve chosen to endorse – Saddam Salim for State Senate and Parisa Dehghani-Tafta for Commonwealth Attorney.

In the State Senate race, where due to redistricting, the City of Falls Church is compelled to choose between two candidates it has never had the opportunity to vote for before, the issue that, at bottom, is the most critical revolves around Virginia’s outmoded and discriminatory “Right to Work” law. Sen. Chap Petersen, considered one of the most conservative Democrats in the state legislature, affirmed his support for the state’s “Right to Work” laws during the campaign, and by so doing, in our view, affirmed a posture at sharp odds with the direction in which the state must go to continue to attract the quality workforce it needs, both in the private and public sectors, to grow our economy and the critical values of equity and quality of life for all.

The critical inflection point reached around the issues involved in the recent pandemic is still being felt. Jurisdictions around Virginia and the nation are encountering new demands by their workforces to recognize the essential components of compensation to provide for legitimate living conditions. Most employers have recognized in this process the need to negotiate in good faith with employee groups, including trade unions, to make this work. “Right to work” laws are throwbacks to earlier times when the absolute right of bosses against workers were asserted, and made into laws, in some backward states that at the time included Virginia.

Now, the times call for a new labor-friendly approach, and our best businesses recognize that in order to be competitive, this has to be the cornerstone of a new approach.

Petersen, however, seems locked into the state’s unhappy Jim Crow past on this and other issues, as well. That is why we would welcome the fresh approach that his opponent, Saddam Salim, son of long-time employees at a valued City of Falls Church business, promises to bring.

In the Commonwealth’s Attorney race, we are puzzled that the opponent to incumbent Dehghani-Tafti feels so vociferously that she should be ousted, even though he claims to stand for the same kind of justice reforms that she has effectively stood for in her first term.