The Sussex County Council will hold a public hearing on Tuesday on a right to work ordinance. The council could vote on the ordinance the following week.
The ordinance is being championed by County Council member and Dagsboro real estate company owner Rob Arlett, who sees the measure as a way to bring higher paying jobs to the county.
A right to work law bars unions from the mandatory collection of dues from employees represented in labor negotiations.
The ordinance, which would apply to private employers, is supported by the Caesar Rodney Institute, Delaware-based a public policy group, as well as by national right to work law organizations.
The institute sent out an email message to members warning that special interest groups were fighting against the ordinance.
Retired labor union members have been speaking out against the ordinance.
Opponents right to work laws say the lack of mandatory dues stacks the deck against unions, which do not have the resources of employers. Supporters of the law say that employers should not be compelled to pay dues.
The legality of the ordinance remains in question, with backers of the ordinance pointing to federal courts upholding a right to work ordinance in a Kentucky county. An advisory opinion from the state cast doubt on the legality of the ordinance.
Labor law has typically been carried out at the state level in Delaware. Chances of a statewide right to work law are nil at present, since Democrats control both houses and the governor’s office.
A Republican effort a couple of years ago to designate right to work zones around industrial sites around the state went nowhere.
Moreover, the powers and services offered by counties in Delaware are generally limited, with public health, law enforcement and roads usually handled by the state.
Backers say the ordinance has a good chance of passage, since all members of the council are Republicans. Arlett led the Delaware effort to elect Donald Trump. Trump carried the county in the 2016 election.
Seaford took the lead in the right to work issue by recently passing a right to work ordinance. The western Sussex city is the home of the Invista plant, which has shrunk to a small number of workers. At its peak, the former DuPont plant employed thousands.
A Heritage Foundation website, the Daily Signal, first brought up the possibility of an ordinance. (Click here for story.)
Arlett later signed on as sponsor of the ordinance.
Wedo, for a time, headed a company that owned Old County Buffet restaurants. He had a brush with fame when he appeared on the network TV show, Undercover Boss. The show had Wedo going undercover to the restaurant chain’s operations to uncover problems and top employees.
Following Wedo’s departure, the struggling company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Backers of right to work laws have made headway in passing the laws elsewhere, with Michigan and Wisconsin now having the legislation on the books.
Right to work states in the south have seen faster job growth as automakers and other employers flocked to those areas. Sunbelt areas are often close to interstate highways and suppliers, while Sussex is somewhat off the beaten path.