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Right-to-Work (for less) defeated in Kentucky

A Federal judge overturned a local County right-to-work (for less) law in Kentucky, minimum wage upheld

Kris LaGrange's picture
Feb 04, 2016

It's the talk of the day, in tweets from the Building Trades in DC, on the Kentucky AFL-CIO website and even on Yahoo! A federal US district court judge ruled that local governments, like County governments, could not enact Right to Work (for less) laws. This is important for the Bluegrass State. The Kentucky AFL-CIO has more than 200,000 members - from auto workers to teachers, electricians to firefighters - who are driving progress in Kentucky and working to secure economic and social justice for all of Kentucky's working families. Half of the United States has Right to Work (for less) as law, and it makes no sense at all. Right to Work laws prohibit agreements between labor unions and employers to require the payment of union dues, or "fair shair fees" as a condition of employment. Seems like a deal but it's ramifications have dire consequences. 

As a result of this, shit happens for regular working people. For example in a Right to Work states, wages are 3.2% less, an estimated $1,500 less annually and workers are 2.6% less likely to have employer sponsored health insurance. Workers are also 4.8% less likely to have a employer sponsored pension and what Right to Work Laws actually do is lower wages to about $1,540 a year less than those in free bargaining states. Fewer workers in Right to Work states are 28% more likely to lack health insurance, compared to workers in free bargaining states and the poverty rate is higher;  15.3% compared to 13.1% in free bargaining states. Living in Right to Work (for less) states can be dangerous as well, with workplace deaths 36% higher than free bargaining states.

So the AP story below being recylced around the country is a good one, a victory for the average Joe and Jill. Share it, like it, send it around and let's hope that this catches on in the other 24 states where workers risk life and limb to make crap wages. Nice work to Kentucky, nice work. 

by ADAM BEAM, Associated Press

Local governments in Kentucky can increase the minimum wage, but a federal judge ruled Wednesday that they can't ban labor unions from requiring employees to join them.

In competing court cases that pitted Democrats against Republicans in a pair of polarizing workplace issues, the courts have now declared them distinct.

When Louisville became the first city in Kentucky to increase its minimum wage in 2014, the next day Warren County passed a law banning mandatory labor union membership as a condition of employment — the so-called "right to work" legislation. Eventually, 11 other counties, including Hardin County, would join them.

State lawmakers have fought each other to a stalemate on both issues in recent years, inspiring like-minded local government officials to tackle the topics on their own. Lawsuits ensued in both cases.

Last year, a state judge ruled Louisville's minimum wage increase legal. An appeal is pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge David Hale invalidated Hardin County's ban, ruling that only state governments can opt out of a federal law that allows closed shop or agency shop agreements that require employees to join a labor union or pay union dues regardless of whether they are union members.

Kentucky Republicans have tried to ban such agreements for years, arguing that they act as a disincentive for companies to come to the state and hire workers. Democrats typically defend the agreements, saying they lead to higher wages and a more secure workforce.

This is the second time a judge has thrown out a local right-to-work law in Kentucky. The first time was in 1965 in Shelbyville. But since then, the Kentucky legislature has delegated some powers to local governments, allowing them to act on the state's behalf. That's why local governments say they have the authority to pass local right-to-work laws, even though federal law says only states can do that.

Hale disagreed. "The defendants skip past the statute's reference to 'any State or Territory.' Instead, they rely on carefully selected quotations from two Supreme Court cases unrelated to the (federal law)," Hale wrote.

Hale's ruling applied to Hardin County's ordinance. Officials there could choose to appeal the ruling.




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