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Imagine a Union that Can't Bargain for Wages and Benefits

Well stop imagining, it's a reality for some public employees in Delaware

Kris LaGrange's picture
Feb 28, 2018

Public employees in Delaware face a big problem, they are allowed to join a union but are not allowed to negotiate their wages and benefits.

HB 96 would change the state law to allow public sector unions to negotiate wages as part of their collective bargaining agreement. As the law currently stands, unions have no power to determine wages for their members, meaning that there is little incentive for the state to work with the union to get a contract passed and signed. The passage of SB 96 would give the 40 different public-sector locals in Delaware basic collective bargaining opportunities to better the lives of its members.

It would also break a double standard in the state. Some state workers like corrections officers do have the right to negotiate wages and benefits. In 2017, after a riot in James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, state lawmakers agreed to extend compensation bargaining to all non-uniformed union members at the states correctional facilities. Instead of just extending it to all public employees, badge bunny lawmakers have decided to take baby steps instead.

“Having the ability to bargain benefits definitely makes your union stronger,” said Jim Ryan President of Communications Workers of America Local 13101. “Our members who work for the State Police can negotiate compensation and they get about 40% more vacation time and double the sick days. It is a definite benefit.”

The bill currently has eight sponsors and has been assigned to the appropriations committee. While it has the support of some elected officials as well as the Delaware State AFL-CIO, this bill has been proposed for years. If it took a prison riot to extend compensation bargaining to non-uniformed corrections officers, it will clearly be a fight for the rest of their public employees to gain the ability to determine their wages and benefits.

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