Sussex County Council defeats right-to-work ordinance (DE)

Officials site potential legal costs and lack of authority to enact measure

By Ron MacArthur
January 9, 2018

Sussex County Council voted 4-1 to deny a proposed right-to-work ordinance. The action follows a prolonged Jan. 2 public hearing as well as testimony during public comment periods over the past three months since the ordinance was introduced.

Union members have attended every meeting since introduction and protested against the ordinance Jan. 2 and Jan. 9 on The Circle in Georgetown.

At its Jan. 9 meeting, county attorney J. Everett Moore reiterated his stand that Sussex County Council does not have the right to enact an ordinance under the state’s home-rule statute. Moore spoke for nearly a half-hour providing background leading to his legal
opinion that only the Delaware General Assembly has that right.

After Moore’s presentation, Councilman Rob Arlett, R-Frankford, said there was a lot of information to digest. “It makes sense to defer based on what you just said. It’s a big decision,” he said, offering a motion to defer.

That drew jeers from the crowded council chambers.

Arlett, who introduced the ordinance as a potential economic development measure, failed to get a second on his motion. Arlett was the only councilman to vote in favor of the ordinance during the subsequent vote.

Council agreed that the cost of defending potential legal action in state and federal courts would impact the county’s budget, and could lead to the county losing its insurance company in the future. The four councilmen opposed to the ordinance agreed with Moore’s legal opinion.

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