Firefighter’s election to Virginia Beach City Council sparks hope for collective bargaining

January 17, 2024

Retired-active Local 2924 member David “Hutch” Hutcheson recently secured a seat on the Virginia Beach City Council following a special election held on January 9.

His election is seen as a potential turning point for firefighters advocating for a collective bargaining ordinance in the city.

Hutcheson, who retired in December 2022 after a 35-year career with the Virginia Beach Fire Department, including five years as fire chief, won 47% of the vote and 10 of the city’s 11 voting districts.

A win for firefighters

Hutcheson’s victory has been met with enthusiasm from the firefighter community.

Max Gonano, President of Virginia Beach Local 2924, expressed his support, stating: “On behalf of all Local 2924, I want to congratulate Hutch on his campaign victory.

“He was a great fire chief, and I know he’ll make an even better city council member.

“We look forward to working with him not just on collective bargaining but all public safety and community improvement issues.”

The path to collective bargaining

The potential for collective bargaining in Virginia Beach comes after several other Virginia municipalities passed similar ordinances, following the state law enacted in 2021 allowing such practices.

In 2023, a special collective bargaining task force, including union representatives, was created by the mayor to recommend a process for bargaining.

Their recommendations were submitted in November 2023.

Strong support and competition

The IAFF and Local 2924 played a significant role in supporting Hutcheson’s campaign, providing both financial backing and strategic advice.

Hutcheson acknowledged this support, remarking: “I am humbled by all the support I received from the IAFF and my brothers and sisters from Local 2924.

“Together, we knocked on the doors of hundreds of voters to discuss the issues face-to-face, and it worked. I look forward to working on behalf of the fire fighters and my constituents.”

FSJA Comment

David Hutcheson’s election to the Virginia Beach City Council represents a notable development in the ongoing efforts to establish collective bargaining rights for firefighters in the region.

His victory, by a significant margin, indicates strong local support for the issues he champions, particularly those concerning public safety and community welfare.

His unique background as a former fire chief brings a practical understanding of the challenges faced by firefighters, potentially influencing future policy decisions.

The outcome of this election could have a wider impact on similar initiatives in other municipalities, highlighting the evolving landscape of labor rights and public safety policies.

Read Next

Subscribe Now