With a pending debate on a right-to-work ordinance early in the new year on the Sussex County Council schedule, the City of Seaford Council passed its own ordinance during a Dec. 12 meeting.
The ordinance forbids employers in the city from requiring that employees be members of a union or pay any dues, fees or charges of any kind to a labor organization.
"No one understands the effect that job loss has better than the people of Seaford," said Mayor David Genshaw.
Once known as The Nylon Capital of the World, when the Seaford DuPont Plant started to scale back in the 1980s and was eventually sold, the city lost thousands of jobs. At one time, as many as 5,000 people –including construction crews – worked at the world's first nylon plant.
The mayor said council and city leadership have done just about everything they can to spur economic development. "But when companies are making a site selection, and they require a right-to-work area, we are not going to get selected. This ordinance will allow Seaford that opportunity. Seaford has been devastated by job loss, and the impact of this ordinance in the future of Seaford is tremendous."
Seaford is the only jurisdiction in Delaware with right-to-work provisions. It remains to be seen what the legal ramifications of city council's action will be. Several attorneys warned county officials that passage of a right-to-work ordinance would result in multiple lawsuits.
Sussex County Council has scheduled a public hearing on a right-to-work ordinance at its Tuesday, Jan. 2 meeting.
What is right to work?
Under the right-to-work law, employees in unionized workplaces cannot be forced to join a union or to pay for any part of the cost of union representation while still receiving the same benefits as union members who pay fees. Twenty-eight states have right-to-work laws in place.
Seaford Star reporter Lynn Parks contributed to this story.