14th District Democrats lash out at ‘right-to-work’

November 23, 2017

The 14th Representative District Democratic Party Committee stands for policies and laws that support workers and their families, including fair pay for all. The so-called "right-to-work" ordinance recently introduced for consideration by Sussex County Council does just the opposite, and that's why we are encouraging the council to defeat it.

Even before getting to the merits of the proposed ordinance, such an ordinance is not within council's jurisdiction to consider. In fact, county attorneys have advised against it, and the Delaware Department of Justice rendered a legal opinion on this very subject, stating in a Nov. 15 letter that, "... Sussex County Council is without legal authority to enact the Ordinance. Title 9 of the Delaware Code is devoid of any express or implied grant of authority to Sussex County to regulate labor organizations or otherwise affect the employee/employer relationship with respect to collective bargaining."

Turning to the merits of the ordinance, those who have studied right-to-work legislation know that it is a subject where hard, unbiased data is scarce. Inevitably, the debate devolves into opposing ideological and political arguments, making less impact as an economic policy than as a political call to arms.

Here are the facts. First, workers in Sussex County are already taking full advantage of their right to work. Sussex County's September unemployment rate was just 4.4 percent, the lowest in Delaware.

Second, no worker may be forced to join a union; the Supreme Court has already ruled to prohibit this.

Third, right-to-work legislation will not attract business to our community. What has and does attract businesses to Sussex County is our favorable climate, both natural and economic, and our educated and qualified workforce.

Turning to Delaware's unions, we believe they should be applauded for the support they provide to the working people of Delaware. Union representation is about worker safety, worker dignity and worker protection. Without the bargaining power that the unions supply, an individual worker hasn't a leg to stand on when asking for what he or she deserves - a living wage, decent working conditions, and worker protection in all its forms.

From our teachers to our pipe-fitters, from our police and other first responders to our electrical workers, and all the workers in between, unions help advocate for a living wage, and a healthy and productive way of life.

So, talking about right-to-work in Sussex County is really just a distraction from the real work at hand. That work is attracting jobs and investment to our county and state, thereby giving workers and their families more opportunities to grow and thrive.

The 14th Representative District Democratic Party Committee applauds the support and advocacy provided by Delaware's unions on behalf of the working people of this county and state.

And, that is why we encourage Sussex County Council to quickly reject this distraction and move on with addressing the real issues impacting the economy and quality of life for Sussex County's citizens and workers.

Find us on Facebook at @Del14thRDDemocratic Committee and send us an instant message to get involved.

Dick Byrne
committee chair, 14th RD Democratic Party Committee


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