Richmond, Virginia—Virginia has moved in rank from No. 52, dead last in the nation, to No. 23 on Oxfam’s Best States to Work Index, all while maintaining its position as the best state to do business. This new ranking is due in part to higher wages to help with the increased cost of living, worker protections to include accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding workers, and the ability of workers rights to organize. It’s important to remember these changes did not magically happen. They are the direct result of hardworking families lobbying and advocating for policies that would benefit their communities and because they worked to elect progressives who took control of the House of Delegates and State Senate.
“With elections coming up, it’s imperative we keep people in office who support access to critical services like paid family and medical leave and investments in childcare and pre-K programs, so families can get ahead and thrive while navigating work and home life.” Vanessa Clinton, Press Secretary at Progress Virginia said. “Democrats in office fought to raise the minimum wage and allow workers to join together in a union so that all of us have the resources we need to thrive. We all want to take a moment to celebrate the progress made, but once the celebration is over, we must focus once more on the needs of hard working families of Virginia. It’s our responsibility to keep their needs consistently in front of us, and we’ll keep working until Virginia takes the top spot for working families. ”
Report finds Virginia making strides for working families [The Virginian Pilot, Christina Tobias- Nahi]
“To be clear, this is much more than an academic exercise; it’s significant to the millions of people who work in our state. Each positive change in a data point in the index illustrates an improvement for working families — from higher wages to safer conditions to enhanced rights to organize. Virginia is now a better state to work in than it was in 2018.”
“Virginia made dramatic strides in all three dimensions in the index: wages, worker protections and rights to organize. The biggest jump is in rights to organize, where the score went from zero to 65.0. While we still endure the “right-to-work” legislation, we have made changes to provide collective bargaining to teachers and public workers; we legalize project labor agreements; and we protect workers against wage theft retaliation.”
“On wages, we finally raised our state minimum wage above the federal standard of $7.25 an hour, to $9.50. While this is still not enough to cover basic costs of living, it’s a dramatic improvement, and has made a big difference in the lives of low-wage working families.”
“We urged legislators to raise wages, implement protections, and improve rights to organize.”
“Moreover, these policies are so robust that Virginia ranks even higher in the Best States for Working Women Index, coming in at No. 18.”