By BERRY CRAIG AFT Local 1360
The Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Louisville-based Teamsters Local 89 will lose no time in appealing today’s Franklin Circuit Court decision that upheld the state’s “right to work” law, according to Bill Londrigan, state AFL-CIO president.
The court dismissed a suit to overturn the law that the state federation and the Teamsters filed last May.
The unions argued that the law violates the state constitution by “taking” from unions because under federal law, they must represent all workers in a unionized workplace–even those who won’t join the union and pay dues or pay the union a service fee to represent them.
The year-old law represents an “attack on Kentucky’s hard-working men and women and the unions that fight for their interests” by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and the GOP-majority legislature, Londrigan said in a statement.
All but a handful of Republicans joined the Democrats in opposing the measure, which quickly passed in January, 2017. Bevin eagerly signed it. He was elected governor in 2015 after boosting a RTW law on the campaign trail.
When Bevin was sworn in, the GOP had a 27-11 edge in the Senate, but the Democrats controlled the House. In the November, 2016, elections, the Republicans held their Senate majority and flipped the House to 64-36, GOP.
The House had been all that stood between Kentucky and RTW.
The RTW bill “was rushed through the General Assembly…to avoid a full debate on the important questions it raised and to silence its critics,” Londrigan said. “The law denies union members the equal protection of the law afforded to other Kentuckians and other Kentucky organizations, it imposes onerous requirements on Kentucky unions and their members not imposed on others, and it takes unions’ property without just compensation.”
Also in the statement, Londrigan said unions believe “Kentucky’s higher courts will understand that this law violates our state constitution and causes real harm to our workers and the unions they represent.”
Londrigan said the court “failed to consider the undisputed testimony of nationally-recognized experts in labor economics who uniformly proved that RTW laws lower wages, hurt workers and fail to add new jobs. Instead, these laws serve to increase profits and weaken the strongest voice workers have to speak on their behalf.”
Added Londrigan, “We believe our higher courts will recognize the harmful effect that this unjust and discriminatory law has on our workers and their unions, which are required under federal law to represent all workers in a bargaining unit, including those who choose to withhold dues and fees.”
Londrigan vowed that “Kentucky unions will continue to fight for all Kentucky’s hard-working women and men to mitigate the detrimental consequences which RTW laws have had on workers in other states – lower wages, fewer workers with health care benefits and retirement plans, and more fatalities on the job – all while failing miserably in their empty promise of more jobs.”
Also today, Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Ben Self issued a statement of solidarity with Bluegrass State unions:
“The Kentucky Democratic Party will continue to stand and fight alongside union workers for Kentucky’s working families. Gov. Bevin’s budget director spoke yesterday on budget shortfalls under the current administration. It proves right-to-work legislation hasn’t economically benefited the state but has only weakened the bottom line and bargaining rights for every working man and woman in the state.”
The RTW measure, HB 1, made Kentucky the 27th “right to work” state. Click here to view the ruling.