Kentucky labor unions got a big boost recently when a
federal judge’s ruling invalidated a ‘Right to Work’ ordinance adopted for a
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
We will keep an eye on the appeal process and provide
updates as necessary.