Del. Bill Supports Collective Bargaining For Delmar Police

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Delmar Police deserve an opportunity to collectively bargain for better pay and safer working conditions, according to the sponsor of legislation that would clear the way for them to unionize.

A bill introduced in the State Senate (SB 181) would clarify that the Town of Delmar is a public employer under the Delaware Police Officers and Firefighters’ Employment Relations Act.

The Delaware Public Employees Relations Board has determined it does not have the authority to certify a Delmar police union, because of the town being run on the Maryland side as well as Delaware. To read the latest determination, please CLICK HERE. Delmar, Maryland officials approved a procedure that would set up a union in 2009.

State Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokola, D-Newark said a ‘fluke of geography’ threatens to ‘negatively impact the livelihoods of the local police department.

“Delmar may be the town too big for one state, but that should not prevent the dedicated men and women who keep its residents safe from being able to collectively bargain for better pay and safer working conditions,” Sokola said. “Three times over the last three decades, officers in the Delmar Police Department have attempted to unionize and been turned away – not because their petition was flawed or they didn’t have signed union cards, but because Delmar is chartered separately in both Delaware and Maryland. We cannot allow a fluke of geography to negatively impact the livelihoods of a police department that deserves all of our backing at this difficult time. Let’s do right by these men and women, and give them the right to negotiate for better compensation and working conditions.” 

“This bill rights a wrong that has been present in the Delaware Code for many years and recently became highlighted by the brutal attack on Cpl. Keith Heacook,” the secretary/treasurer of International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 325 Paul Thornburg said. The union recently petitioned the PERB to represent police in Delmar.

“The citizens on both sides of the state line in Delmar have been asking their leaders to help right this wrong since the PERB decision was announced and the leadership in the Senate and House stepped up. The citizens and union could not be happier someone is taking on this issue,” Thornburg added. “I only hope other legislators see this as a fairness issue and vote for the legislation.” 

Representative Tim Dukes said Monday on WGMD that he had not heard from local officials that this was a necessary bill.

“There’s never been an example in the General Assembly since 1965 when collective bargaining began that isolated or imposed collective bargaining obligation on any town,” Dukes said. “This is absolutely unprecedented.”

The State Senate Labor Committee was scheduled to take up the legislation Wednesday at 10 a.m.

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