A New Year usually brings fresh beginnings, but in states
like Kentucky, anti-union legislation including Right-to-Work keeps rearing its
Governor Matt Bevins is advocating Bluegrass state lawmakers
to adopt a Right to Work agenda -- policies that will hurt IAFF members and
their families by making their communities less safe. The average worker in
states with Right to Work laws make less compared to workers in other states.
Those who favor Right to Work support big businesses and their bottom line. In
addition, the harmful legislation will make it harder for members to provide
for their families and give back to their communities. It makes communities
weaker and in some states where Right to Work has been pushed our opponents
have publicly admitted that Right to Work would LOWER wages of workers.
For the majority of 2015, groups such as the American
Legislative Exchange Council, Heritage Foundation and Protect My Check
collaborated and used Kentucky as a testing ground to pass Right to Work
ordinances in a dozen cities and towns in the state.
For those groups, 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.
And, in too many cases, supporters of such harmful
legislation are duplicitous in how they market it to citizens, saying it will
drum up more business and help local economies.
However, the IAFF knows and continues to educate members
about how detrimental Right to Work laws are for middle class families. The
rate of workplace deaths is 54.4 percent higher in states with these laws. In
addition, median household income in states with these laws is $6,568, 11.8
percent less than in others states ($49,220 vs. $55,788).
Kentucky’s legislative session opens this week with more
harmful legislation that could potentially affect how IAFF members protect
their communities and families on the agenda. In addition, the governor is
planning to slash the state budget, and his administration has issued a
moratorium on hiring new state employees.
Governor Bevins seems all too willing to go along with plans
that are not good for workers. In Right to Work states, it has been proven time
and time again that workers and their families are left behind, while big
businesses and their owners are the only ones that thrive.
The IAFF will continue to stay vigilant against these
harmful bills that affect its members’ lives and livelihoods.