Kentucky Unionists 1 – Chamber of Commerce 0

Categories: Workers' Rights

Union members in Kentucky have been fighting a war against right-to-work-for-less legislation. So far they have successfully stopped many counties from adopting the anti-worker measure. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, the Bluegrass Institute, ALEC, and other anti-worker organizations had launched their crusade to pass the right-to-work-for-less measure in 30 counties by the end of January.

But because of the Kentucky labor movement’s intense grassroots outreach and pressure, the union-busting force has fallen short of their goal by 23 counties. Counties that the anti-worker coalition thought would jump on the bandwagon suddenly backed off.

“Our federal lawsuit, mailings to county judge/executives and county attorneys, press work, testimony, and demonstrations have sent a strong message to the counties that organized labor will be fighting this plague in every corner of the Commonwealth,” said Bill Londrigan, president of Kentucky’s AFL-CIO.

But the work is far from over, Londrigan said. Kentucky has 120 counties, and it will take members from every union to reach out to their counties, keep an eye on the issue and report back to the state AFL-CIO. The state federation also has developed a resolution for union members to get passed in their counties.

Right-to-work-for-less laws stop employers and employees from negotiating an agreement that requires all workers who receive the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement to pay their share of the costs of representing them. The laws are not fair to dues-paying members as they require unions to represent every eligible employee, whether he or she pays dues or not. The laws also weaken unions financially, leading to eroded union power to negotiate for better pay, benefits, and working conditions for workers. 

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