right to work

Boone County has become the first county in northern Kentucky to pass a local right-to-work law. 

The fiscal court voted unanimously Tuesday night to join ten other Kentucky counties in approving the controversial measures, which prohibit mandatory union membership as a condition of employment. 

Meanwhile, Oldham County government has voted to table its right-to-work ordinance until a federal lawsuit is resolved.  A group of labor unions has a suit pending against Hardin County for passing a similar ordinance. 

This past January, the Republican-led Kentucky Senate did what it does just about every year: It passed a statewide right-to-work bill.

Keeping with tradition, when the bill arrived at the Democratic-controlled House, it died.

For decades, Democrats have rejected efforts to allow employees in unionized companies the freedom to choose whether to join a union.

Now, the battle has shifted from the statehouse to individual counties.

Lisa Autry

Republican gubernatorial candidate James Comer says passing a statewide right-to-work law would be his first priority if elected as Kentucky's next governor.

Comer, Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner and a Monroe County native,  predicts the issue will be hotly debated during the general election, given that Democratic front-runner Jack Conway opposes such a law.

Right-to-work laws prohibit private-sector workers from being forced to join labor unions. Critics maintain they’re being used as a tool to crush labor organizations and drive down workers’ wages.

Comer says becoming right-to-work would help Kentucky compete for jobs against its neighbors.

“If you want to be considered a business-friendly state, one of the first things you have to do in your state is become right-to-work," Comer says.

Several Kentucky counties have passed, or are in the process of passing, local right-to-work ordinances. Marshall County this week became the first county in the state to pass a resolution denouncing right-to-work measures.

Another judge has ruled against Indiana’s two-year-old right-to-work law.

Lake County Judge George Paras ruled this week the law forcing unions to provide services for workers who don’t pay dues, is against the constitution. The Evansville Courier & Press reports that led Indiana’s attorney general to request a stay of that ruling until the State Supreme Court takes up another judge’s ruling at a September 4th hearing. 

The right-to-work legislation was passed in 2012 by a Republican-dominated legislature.

Right to Work Bill Fails to Clear Kentucky Panel

Mar 13, 2014
Kentucky LRC

Right-to-work legislation has died in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

The Republican-backed bill was met with stiff opposition from labor unions and House Democrats.

Committee Room 149 was standing room only, with union members crossed-armed along the edges of the packed hearing on a bill that would prohibit workers from paying union dues as a condition of employment.

They say the measure filed by House GOP Floor Leader Jeff Hoover would lower wages for all workers.

Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan says the decline in American jobs is related to free-trade agreements.

“It’s happening alright. Thirty-six-thousand-four-hundred jobs since 2001 due to our flawed trade agreements with China. Maybe we should be talking about that, and not right-to-work," Londrigan said to applause from many in the audience.

The Indiana Supreme Court has let stand the fines levied by state House Republicans on Democrats for their walkout over a controversial right-to-work bill.

Justices split 3-2 on an opinion issued Tuesday finding that the constitutional separation of powers bars the courts from interfering in internal legislative decisions. The state's highest court approved a request that the case be dismissed.

Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote for the majority that it is not the court's role to assess punishments within the legislative branch of government. Justices Loretta Rush and Robert Rucker dissented, writing that the House's "discretion to punish its members" doesn't include withholding pay.

Majority House Republicans ordered the state auditor to withhold the fines from Democrats who spent weeks at an Illinois hotel in protest of the right-to-work bill in 2011, and staged another walkout the following year.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is taking a firmer stand on conservative issues. Republican legislators have criticized the chamber in the past for supporting Democratic-led proposals like expanded gambling and a higher dropout age while staying quiet on so-called right to work and prevailing wage laws.