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Gov. Carney signs legislation allowing more state workers to bargain for higher wages

Sarah Mueller

More Delaware state workers can now collectively bargain for higher wages. Gov. John Carney signed legislation Thursday allowing state workers to bargain for working conditions and wages at the same time.

Previously, only those in certain professions could collectively bargain for compensation. All state employees in unions can bargain for better working conditions.

The change impacts about 2,000 state employees.

Michael Begatto, Executive Director of American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees praised Carney for helping getting the bill through the General Assembly.

“It’s not just a big moment, this is a huge moment," he said. "I won’t use the words of our former vice president, but this is a big deal. Believe me, it’s that big of a deal.”

Bill sponsor, State Sen. Jack Walsh, said now state workers can bargain as individual units for compensation because it makes bargaining units based more on the group of employees than by job title. He said he’s happy with the end result.

“I know even during the course of this, some of us, some of our labor organizations, we didn’t agree on certain things, but we came together and got things done,” he said.

State lawmakers still have to approve compensation changes.

Carney’s administration initially expressed concerned about the bill’s fiscal impact. It’s expected to cost about $350,000 in the next fiscal year. It rises to about $460,000 after that.

The Department of Human Resources is likely to hire four additional people to meet the anticipated increase in contract negotiations.

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