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DE Governor's Office

Delaware: Bargaining for Wages and Benefits

In a huge step forward, labor once didn't have this right now they do

Brian Young's picture
May 31, 2019

For decades, many public employees in Delaware lacked the ability to collectively bargain their wages. Without the ability to bargain for wages state workers were subject to the whims of elected officials regarding raises. Delaware has traditionally been a state where unions haven't been the strongest. Right to Work bill have been introduced and many worried that even with Democratic control of the state, that Right to Work might pass.

On Thursday, Delaware Governor John Carney finally remedied this issue by signing into law a bill that would extend collective bargaining for wages to all state employees. The change is expected to affect 2,000 employees. At a time when many states are restricting collective bargaining rights, this is an important move. It also gives public employee unions, who are fighting to retain every member after the Janus decision, another tool to show their membership that it is worth paying dues.

“This is a proud moment for our Unions that represent our state workers,” said James Maravelias, President of the Delaware State AFL-CIO. “This shows our constant commitment to their livelihood and our ever-present representation.”

Wages in Delaware for state employees have also lagged behind other Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states. According to Ballotpedia, they make about $200 less a week than public employees in New York and New Jersey and about $50 a week less than those in Maryland.

"This bill was a long time coming, we fought for a decade for this," said Jim Ryan, President of CWA Local 13101. "With the current administration being more understanding of workers rights we were able to get this done in a cooperative manner." CWA 13101 represents state social workers who were not able to negotiate wages before this bill was signed into law.

Senator Jack Walsh, the main sponsor of the bill described the passage of the bill as an important step in improving the lives of all Delaware families.

“As the state’s largest employer, we have led the way time and again when it comes to caring for our workers. From paid parental leave and loan forgiveness for public school teachers to cost-of-living wage hikes and stronger labor unions, we are creating a stronger workforce and a brighter future for thousands of our residents,” Walsh said in a press release.

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