Contrary to a story in The Post Monday, the Equal Rights Amendment was voted on by the Virginia Senate earlier this year and was defeated.
A group of several hundred union members voted here today to launch a campaign to support passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia and called for a mass demonstration of ERA supporters here next January.
Representing some 23 unions in Virginia ranging from the Teamsters to the Bicycle Messengers, 225 women and men pledged a new effort to win ratification of the ERA.
Virginia is one of 15 states that have not ratified the ERA, which Congress approved in 1972. Thirty-five states have ratified it, but three more are needed before the March 29, 1979 deadline.
This group is part of what seems to be a new effort aimed at securing passage of the ERA in Virginia, where the proposed constitutional amendment has not even made it to the floor of the legislature. An attempt to get the ERA voted on last year was blocked when Republican lieutenant governor candidate A. Joe Canada, changed his vote at the last minute.
Muriel Smith, head of the Virginia ERA ratification Council, said that after the Nov. 8 elections there will be more than 50 ERA supporters in the 100-member House of Delegates for the first time.
"We've trired everything," said Mary Hatwood-Futrell, president of the Virginia Education Association and chair-person of ERAmerica. "We've tried being nice little ladies, we've tried parliamentary procedure. Maybe this demonstration idea will do some good. As I travel around the state, I see activity everywhere. This will help to renew the momentum."
Today's meeting was organized by the women's committee of the Meat Cutters Local in Springfield. They interested other unions in the project, and paid a staff person to organize the event. Other unions paid the expenses of members who traveled to Richmond from places such as Portsmouth, Smithfield, and Northern Virginia.
"This is unprecedented that all major unions have come together demanding that ERA be ratified," said Jerry Gordon of the Meat Cuttlers International to the group. "On Jan. 22 we're going to march on the streets of Richmond, brothers and sisters together."
In the future Gordon said, "The choice for legislators will be simple. Either get turned on to ERA or get turned out of office."
The group provided those who attended today's meeting with a list of candidates for state and local office and their positions on the ERA. For many in Northern Virginia, the choice of whether to vote for House majority leader, James M. Thomson (D-Alexandria) will be particularly hard. Thomson, while a supporter of limited collective bargaining for public employees, is also a strong opponent of the ERA.
Maureen Fielder, a Sister of Mercy who works for the Quixote Center in Maryland, told the group that anti-ERA organizer Phyllis Schafly and her husband are connected to a web of right-wing groups that are "as anti-labor as they are anti-women."
Del. Ira M. Lechner (D-Arlington), a favorite of labor groups, told the crowd to remember on election day, Nov. 8, that Republican John N. Dalton is opposed to the ERA while Democrat Henry E. Howell supports it. He did not, however, mention the Democrats' nominee for Attorney General, Edward E. Lane, who is also opposed to the ERA. His Republican opponent, State Sen. J. Marshall Coleman is a supporter.