Kentucky: Lucky Number 27
Bluegrass finally goes Right-to-Work
By Olivia Grady
Kentucky is the latest state to become Right-to-Work after Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R), who was elected in 2015, and the state legislature passed Right-to-Work with a speed rarely found in government.
On January 7, 2017, Governor Bevin signed House Bill 1 into law after the Kentucky Senate approved the bill earlier that day with a 25-12 vote. The state House of Representatives had passed the bill 58-39 on January 5th.
Kentucky legislators had tried to pass Right-to-Work for decades, but pro-Right-to-Work legislators did not have control of both houses of the legislature and the support of the governor in the past. In November 2016, voters elected a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, making Right-to-Work possible in Kentucky.
Kentucky is the last state in the Old South to become Right-to-Work.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce was thrilled with this news. Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson released a statement saying on January 7th:
“The Kentucky General Assembly made a bold and historic decision to pass a right-to-work law, to guarantee workers a choice about joining a union and to tell the world that Kentucky is ‘Open for Business.'”
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also congratulated Kentucky in his own press release:
"Right-to-Work is a smart way to get America on the path to real recovery, and it's critical to empowering workers and giving them more freedom to keep more of their hard-earned dollars to spend as they choose. This is why I have continually supported legislation at the federal level to enact right-to-work nationwide. The passage of this state law will boost economic development and help put Kentucky on a level playing field with neighboring right-to-work states when it comes to competing for and attracting new businesses to create more jobs."
Unions however were less thrilled.
At a protest on January 4th, hundreds of union workers shouted “suits in there, boots out there” in the hallways of the legislative office building while a Committee hearing was taking place.
Governor Bevin interestingly testified before the Committee, but he needed state troopers to get to the meeting room. Union members were booing him, even though he debated some of the members in the hallway after the testimony.
The Kentucky AFL-CIO also organized a rally against the bill on January 7th in front of the Kentucky State Capitol. On its website, the union stressed to its members the importance of a united front:
Anti-union lawmakers in Frankfort are trying to ram through bills that will hurt our ability to have strong unions and good jobs in our state. By abusing their power, changing the rules and moving these bills as "emergency legislation" they haven't given elected officials the time to even READ THE BILLS, let alone understand how these will deeply and negatively impact our working families. Lawmakers are being asked to vote yes or no on dangerous, destructive bills like right to work, paycheck deception and elimination of prevailing wage without even a chance to think about the consequences.
In addition to calling the Right-to-Work bill and the Paycheck Protection bill “some of the most extreme anti-workers bills in the nation,” Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan also said in response to the passage of the Right-to-Work bill on January 8th:
“The Kentucky State AFL-CIO’s purpose is to improve the lives of working families and bring fairness and dignity to the workplace. No laws written by corporate CEOs, ALEC, the billionaire Koch Brothers, and extreme right wing politicians will change our mission or weaken our resolve!”
Center for Worker Freedom congratulates the people of Kentucky for choosing a Governor and state legislators who have opted to make Kentucky a freer and more prosperous state.
Missouri, it’s your turn!