Kentucky passes controversial ‘right-to-work’ law


Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed into law a bill blocking unions in the state from collecting dues from the non-member workers they represent. Kentucky is the 27th state — and the last state in the South — to pass a “right-to-work” law that limits workers’ bargaining power by depleting a source of union funds.

The law’s passage came on the heels of the Republican Party’s overwhelming victory in the 2016 elections. The GOP won control of the state’s House of Representatives for the first time since 1921.

Kentucky Republicans’ swift move against unions in their state generated strong opposition from workers. In the days preceding the vote on the bill, hundreds of union workers filled the hallways of the legislative office building in Frankfort to protest the legislation. When Gov. Bevin came to testify in support of the bill — an unusual act for a sitting governor — state troopers escorted him through the large crowd of booing protesters.

“Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and House Republican leadership made hurting working Kentuckians their No. 1 priority,” Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan said. “They chose to give multinational corporations more power to outsource jobs, cut wages and reduce benefits at the expense of our workers, small businesses and the local economy.”

The state’s right-to-work law also prohibits public employees from going on strike.

In another anti-worker measure, Kentucky’s Legislature on Jan. 6 repealed a law requiring construction companies to pay workers the prevailing wage for publicly funded projects such as schools and roads.

The Hill, Jan. 8
In These Times, Jan. 5
Courier-Journal, Jan. 4

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