LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Workers’ bill exploiting Delaware veterans

After reading the article in the newspaper about all the people who were at the state house regarding this bill [“State House panel OKs pro-union bill,” March 17], I decided to find out what it was about. Dug out a copy from the state websites and read up on it.

The bill is titled “The Veterans, Skilled Workers And Community Workforce Act.” Obviously, it’s to help our vets, so, as a vet myself, I felt it might be a good thing and should be supported. Then I read it and realized just how far a politician will go attempting to use an emotionally sensitive group in an attempt to get a personal agenda enacted.

Out of five pages, there is just one small paragraph that has anything to do with vets. Names a small 5-percent requirement of vets on state-contracted jobs. I’m willing to bet that number is probably already being met today when we think of the number of vets we have just from recent events.

The majority of the bill is about limiting employment to contractors that have labor agreements with their employees.

In addition to requiring the labor agreement, it also requires an employer to use 30 percent of their workforce from the [state] representative district where the work is performed; if not met, then, must be within the county. It also establishes extensive record-keeping procedures for the contractor to report and the state to keep track of for time cards, etc., from company level down to foreman level.

All the above will limit who bids on each contract. Will an employer want to have to hire additional people to be able to “cross county” lines while laying off the people not needed due to the rules?

The next several pages are spent promoting the virtues of organized labor. I’m retired, but during my life, I have been a union worker, a non-union worker and in management. I resent the implication this bill gives that my work was not safe or of quality when I was not in a union. My work ethic did not change, just my status. The bill basically promotes the wonderful world we would live in as long as labor agreements were in place for state projects. Currently, there are inspectors for every area of these jobs. Are we to believe they will no longer be necessary due to the quality of the work this bill would bring?

In today’s world where we taxpayers should be concerned about state expenditures, the one thing this bill would guarantee is higher costs.

Even if somebody could convince me the per-hour labor rates would not go up due to the “closed” bidding process, the amount of record-keeping both by the contractor and the state would up the cost to the taxpayer. The time a contractor and state will have to spend ensuring they meet the quotas and record-keeping will also add to the overhead cost of all these projects.

If the sponsor/s of this bill truly are concerned about vets, then, introduce a bill that does just that. Don’t try to sneak other items of their personal agenda through by playing the patriot card and abusing/using vets.

For a copy, go to http://www.legis.delaware.gov and at the top right of the page, ask for HB 283, and that will give you a page where you can get a copy in Doc format or in HTML format.

If you feel even slightly as I do, please read up on this bill and let your representative and senator know how you feel about this bill.

Rick Hostedler

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