WILMINGTON, Del. – State workers from all over Delaware filed into Gov. John Carney’s office to witness him signing into law a bill that protects public sector unions and allows more state employees to collectively bargain for higher wages.
“State employees protect our communities, teach our children, clear our streets and provide critical services for Delaware families,” said Carney before signing the bill last Thursday. “They ought to be paid what they’re worth. Investing in state employees, and our state workplaces, will help us attract and retain quality state employees, and deliver state services more effectively. I was proud to stand alongside union leaders and members of the General Assembly in signing this legislation into law.”
Union workers packed the office, standing shoulder to shoulder as Carney, bill co-sponsors Sen. Jack Walsh and Rep. Gerald Brady, and AFSCME Council 81 Executive Director Mike Begatto spoke about the legislation, which was years in the making.
Walsh said, “It’s a proud day for Delaware state employees.”
“I want to thank Governor Carney for signing this important legislation,” said Begatto. “Without his support, this would not have gotten done.”
He continued, “This is more than a big deal, it’s huge.”
The passage of this bill is a big deal to Begatto and members of Council 81 because it was their perseverance that propelled it forward. Begatto explained that unions want to collectively bargain, not collectively beg for better wages.
The new law will allow 2,000 additional state employees to negotiate for higher wages.
James Bordlay, president of Local 832, revealed that his division hasn’t gotten a raise since 2004 and that the new law will benefit his and other social service divisions across Delaware.
Saundra Ross Johnson, secretary of the Delaware Department of Human Resources, said, “We look forward to working with the bargaining units to make certain that together, we are providing fair and equitable opportunities for our current employees and those seeking employment.”
Delaware state employees are not the only ones receiving good news. Twenty thousand state employees in Nevada also are getting collective bargaining rights for the first time ever thanks in part to activism by AFSCME members.