Debate over right-to-work in Sussex County kicks off

Nearly 100 people turned out in Georgetown Tuesday morning to debate the merits of right-to-work legislation proposed by Sussex County Councilman Robert B. Arlett.

The five-member Sussex County Council did not vote on the ordinance, deferring that to a future meeting most likely in November. All are Republicans who usually stand on the opposite side of unions and their frequent Democratic Party allies.

Union advocates easily outnumbered business and civic leaders who supported the initiative. Many referred to the legislation as the “right to work for less,” a frequent union rallying point.

Supporters spoke to the need for improved and greater economic development which they said would likely follow adoption of right-to-work, as they maintained has happened in other states.

Two attorneys, Kevin Fasic and Theodore “Ted” Kittila, made the case that the legislation is legal, as supported by the Supreme Court of the United States in the upholding of a 6th Circuit District Court of Appeals ruling on a similar issue from Kentucky.

Supporters expected strong arguments from pro-union advocates against Sussex’ right to pass such legislation, but none really made that case.

Rather, union spokespeople focused on the prospect of right-to-work legislation weakening compensation for union workers.

Sussex County Attorney J. Everett Moore Jr. predicted the likelihood of litigation over the measure and said that the Council’s position in adopting it would not be strong under the State’s Home Rule grant of power and authority to the County. Among other things, he cited formatting issues.

“We cannot have an ordinance introduced today in this format,” Moore said.

Moore and Arlett agreed to meet after the meeting “to get it right,” Arlett said.

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