Kentucky labor unions got a big boost recently when a federal judge’s ruling invalidated a ‘Right to Work’ ordinance adopted for a local municipality.
Officials of Hardin County are appealing the judges’ ruling over an ordinance that prohibited labor unions from collecting dues from members in exchange for representation.
The IAFF is carefully watching what’s happening in Kentucky because we want to better prepare our members on the latest strategy to attack the rights of workers. The strategy to introduce Right to Work laws in municipalities instead of statehouses makes it harder for labor unions to fight and thwart the negative attacks.
The ruling only affects Hardin County and hopefully will serve as a warning to other counties who may consider adopting this misguided ordinance. Hardin was one of 12 counties to pass the ordinance in the state of Kentucky. The judge in this case said when providing the rationale for the ruling said: the primary question presented by this lawsuit is whether a right to work law may be enacted solely by a state or territorial government, or whether a local government – in this case county – may pass a law prohibiting union-security agreements…. Because the court finds that local regulation of union-security agreements is preempted by the NLRA, the right to work ordinance at issue here is invalid.
Also the ruling that prohibits hiring-hall agreements and allowed the checkoff of union dues was invalidated.
For over a year in Kentucky, anti-union groups have pushed ‘Right to Work’ ordinances in towns and municipalities. These ordinances were created to destroy any and all rights of workers and would have resulted in other negative legislation such as Right to Work, Dues Deduction and ultimately privatize services like fire and EMS. Big business would have an outsized influence over local politicians and executives would gain more financially through the privatization of services.
What’s worst is the disingenuous way Right to Work was advertised to citizens as being a boon for job growth and a boost for the local economy. The truth is workers LOSE BIG when Right to Work laws are passed earning less than workers in other that who don’t have laws.
The evil trifecta of the America Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Heritage Foundation and Protect My Check are the organizations pushing these ordinances in Kentucky. They are attempting to high-jack our democracy and hurt middle class families. ALEC has pushed anti-union and anti-worker legislation in statehouse across the country and have been involved in other efforts to push Right to Work in Wisconsin and other states.
We will keep an eye on the appeal process and provide updates as necessary.