Despite Protest, Funding Bill Signed by Carney Gives Unionized Labor Preference

Posted on 02-01-2023

FEBRUARY 1, 2023 — Late last week, House and Senate Democrats, in cooperation with the Carney administration, injected controversy into what is typically a routine funding bill.

Every year in January, which is halfway through the fiscal year, the General Assembly passes a “mini-Bond Bill.” The measure recognizes developments that have occurred since the capital budget was enacted six months earlier, reallocating previously approved funds to new purposes. It is usually a housekeeping measure, passed with little public attention or fanfare.

That changed under this year’s incarnation of the bill (Senate Bill 35). The measure included funds for the Office of Management and Budget and the Delaware Department of Transportation to engage in a pilot program to include Community Workforce Agreements (CWAs) as part of six large public works projects. CWAs require significant organized labor participation, the exact percentages of which would be determined by the agencies overseeing the pilot programs.

NEWS: Despite Protests, Funding Bill Gives Unionized Labor Preference


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House and Senate Republicans denounced what they perceived to be preferential treatment for unionized labor and criticized the process. They noted the mini-Bond Bill is not subjected to committee hearings, allowing the legislation to bypass public comment and participation. 

Large numbers of non-unionized contractors and workers, many of whom are Hispanic and African American, turned out at Legislative Hall this week to protest the inclusion CWAs in the funding bill.

The Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce issued a statement to all state lawmakers, supporting Republican efforts to have the CWA pilot programs removed from the bill: “The project labor requirements proposed in SB 35 limit black and minority-owned contractors’ ability to participate and compete for state projects. …Approximately 80% of the construction in Delaware is completed by non-organized labor. So, why does this bill prioritize CWAs, limit the number of Disadvantage Business Enterprises (DBEs) to certain projects, and grant state contracts to out-of-state workers while Delaware blacks and minorities are left on the sidelines?”

Despite the criticism, the bill with the CWA provisions still intact cleared the House and Senate entirely on the strength of Democratic votes. Gov. Carney signed the measure into law on Thursday (1/26).

Delaware Republican House of Representatives Office:

411 Legislative Ave, Dover, DE, United States, 19901