Massive Turnout for Right to Work Public Hearing in Sussex Count - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Massive Turnout for Right to Work Public Hearing in Sussex County

Posted: Jan 02, 2018 4:20 PM Updated:

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del.- A right to work ordinance that would outlaw mandatory union membership and allow people to opt out of paying union dues attracted protesters and supporters from around the region.

Ahead of Tuesday morning's 10:45 public hearing, dozens of people picketed in the Georgetown Circle, while others filled the county council chambers to capacity. The turnout was so large that county officials set up an overflow area in the building's lobby. Officials also counted raised hands to determine who was in favor and against the ordinance ahead of the formal public comment.

Many told WBOC the measure would hurt workers' rights.

"If you study states that are right to work, they tend to have lower standards of living and less benefits for their workers," says John Brown, a retired carpenter from Lewes. 

Others said the ordinance would reduce collective bargaining rights and could diminish working conditions, while supporters say "right to work" would bring in new businesses.

"The five of you need to think about what will benefit your people, what will bring work here," Attorney Theodore A. Kittila told the County Council. "When you have people that are not deciding to build automobile plants in the state of Delaware because we are not right to work [...] that's a shame."

The ordinance was introduced by Councilman Rob Arlett late last year. Ahead of the public hearing, he said today was about determining what was best for Sussex County's future.

"We all desire the same thing and that is we all want to be able to provide for our families," he said. "We all have dreams. We all have aspirations. That's what we want and the reality is what is it that we are to do to foster that?"

Arlett's picture was affixed to one of the giant, inflatable rats that lined the streets of Georgetown in protest to the proposed ordinance. Other displays included an inflatable "fat cat" that was choking a union worker. Those with the displays said if "right to work" finds a home in Sussex County, they'll pledge to get supporters out of office.

"We will be coming down now and seeing what races are available, what candidates we can put against people," Delaware AFL-CIO President James Maravelias told WBOC. "We are not going to let right to work sit in Delaware."

The public hearing lasted over four hours before the Sussex County Council deferred a vote on the ordinance. There is no word yet on when that vote will take place. 

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