CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- It’s been decades since employees of Charlottesville City Schools were able to negotiate as a collective bargaining unit, but that's now changed.

On Thursday night, the Charlottesville School Board voted unanimously to approve collective bargaining. Now, all CCS staff will be able to have a say in their wages, benefits, and working conditions.

"It’s a win-win for our teachers and students," said school board chair James Bryant.

Last month, the board endorsed collective bargaining for its faculty and staff. This week, the members officially approved it, but not without some conditions, like a limit on how many things could be negotiated.

"They have to decide which of the two they're going to bargain. It could be anywhere from wages to working conditions," Bryant said.

The contract is set for three years.

"They will have to renegotiate," said Bryant.

In some states, teachers’ unions can go on strike without a contract but Bryant says that’s not the case here.

"You cannot strike in the state of Virginia," he said.

According to state law, if any employee or group of employees strike, they will lose their jobs.

The agreement made Thursday night also requires funding from the city.

"I think it was a necessary thing to happen," said City Councilor Michael Payne.

Payne says the Charlottesville City Council doesn't know the exact amount yet.

"What we have to do going forward is city council will have to work with the school board in the short term to figure out what increased costs there will be," Payne said.

He says the only thing that would prevent them from funding the system is no room in the budget, but he is confident there will be.

"We've been anticipating this. We know there is going to be some upfront startup costs," Payne said.

The approval made the city school division the third in Virginia to allow collective bargaining rights, according to the Daily Progress.