A major piece of Right to Work legislation has reportedly been taken “off the table” for the current legislative session in Kentucky, handing labor groups in the state yet another victory in their long-running Right to Work Battle.
Recognizing the House’s reluctance to move the legislation forward, Republican Senate President Robert Stivers stated that no bills related to Right to Work would be addressed during the current session.
Despite being a state that leans toward conservatism, Kentucky’s State House is currently controlled by democrats that are sympathetic towards labor unions. In the words of Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, “I don’t think you can overstate just how important organized labor was in the special elections.”
In light of the news, labor leaders in the state are looking towards the future optimistically.
“Although it’s only a temporary victory, it’s nice to be able to focus on the future without wondering when the next Right to Work fight will start,” says Richard Dalton, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 18 which represents all of Ohio and several counties in Kentucky. “When it comes to this issue, every Republican setback only serves to give us more and more momentum.”
In February, a federal judge overturned Hardin County’s controversial Right to Work laws, ruling that county governments couldn’t enact the legislation on a local level.
Kentucky’s latest Right to Work failures come as a major blow to Gov. Matt Bevin, who was elected in 2014 after campaigning on a platform that included Right to Work initiatives. As it stands, democrats hold a four seat majority in the lower house and are preventing the legislation from gaining any traction.
It’s a fact that isn’t lost on unions throughout Kentucky.
“We have to keep pushing forward ahead of November,” says Dalton. “While it would be easy to sit back and savor these moments, we have to do everything in our power to make sure that voters know what’s at stake when they cast their votes. Who they vote for could very well alter the future of the state’s middle class.”
Designed to weaken the strength of labor unions by allowing employees to opt out of paying union dues, Right to Work laws have long been derided for weakening workers’ rights, lowering salaries, decreasing benefits and leading to inferior working conditions.
The laws have been passed in 26 states to date. Kentucky is currently the only state in the south that hasn’t passed Right to Work legislation.
For more information on Right to Work in Ohio, visit: http://protectohiosmiddleclass.org/
SOURCE: Keep Ohio's Heritage
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