News & Insights

Union and Delawarean Preference Bill Emerges in Delaware’s General Assembly

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Wow! Talk about a development.

On March 16, 2016, the “Veterans, Skilled Workers, and Community Workforce Act” was reported out of the Labor Committee in the House of the Delaware General Assembly with seven voting on its merits. The Committee found “that the bill is not designed to put anyone out of work, and that both union and merit-shop organizations would still be able to bid for contracts from the State under this bill.”

As usual, I leave it to readers to make up their own minds about whether this development would be good or bad for Delaware. My guess is that folks will get a lot of help deciding what to think in the next several weeks as groups debate this robustly. For now, let me just say “wow”!

Two excerpts from the bill include:

“the public entity shall either: directly negotiate in good faith a project labor agreement with one or more labor organizations engaged in the construction industry; or condition the award of a contract to a contractor upon a requirement that the contractor negotiate in good faith a project labor agreement with one or more labor organizations engaged in the construction industry”; and

“[t]he contracting state agency shall establish a local hiring policy that will require contractors and their subcontractors on public works projects to draw a minimum of 30% of their project workers from persons residing within the Representative District in which the project is partly or wholly located.”

Not in a union? Don’t live in Delaware? Have an opinion about the significance of those two issues in context of Delaware contract practices? If so, pay attention to this one!

Here is some information about the bill:

HB 283 (Mulrooney, Osienski, Hall-Long, Marshall, Bennett, Bentz, Bolden, Brady, Carson, Heffernan, Jaques, J. Johnson, Keeley, Kowalko, Longhurst, Lynn, Matthews, Mitchell, Paradee, B. Short, Viola, K. Williams; Sens. Blevins, Ennis, McBride, McDowell, Poore)


Synopsis: This bill is the Veterans, Skilled Workers, and Community Workforce Act. It requires that on all state-funded construction, public works, or improvement projects that contractors and subcontractors must draw 30% of their workforce from the Representative District where the project is located, and 5% of their workforce from eligible Delaware veterans. Such projects are to be governed by a Project Labor Agreement with the Delaware Building and Construction Trades Council to provide structure and stability and promote efficient completion.

Actions History:

Mar 10, 2016 – Introduced and Assigned to Labor Committee in House

* Tim is Chair of the Delaware State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section’s Legislative Action Subcommittee, Co-Chair of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce’s Employer Advocacy Subcommittee (“EAC”), and partner in the labor and employment group of Connolly Gallagher LLP. Employers or commercial entities having questions about these issues or other employment law issues are welcome to contact Tim at 302-252-4217.

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