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Kentucky Supreme Court Rejects Union Challenge To “Right-To-Work” Law

Creative Commons

The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the state’s “right-to-work” law, a measure that bans unionized companies from requiring workers to pay union dues.

The Republican-controlled legislature passed the law last year, saying that it would make Kentucky more attractive to businesses looking to relocate to the state. Unions quickly sued to try and block the legislation.

In a 4-3 ruling, the high court rejected the challenge. Justice Laurance VanMeter wrote that “the legislature is permitted to set the economic policy for the Commonwealth.”

“One does not need an advanced degree in labor economics to recognize that employers might be attracted to locate in a state where wages are lower as opposed to a state where wages are higher,” VanMeter wrote.

“The legislature can clearly make a policy decision that the Act might result in more jobs, albeit at lower wages, and that this result, in turn, might benefit the overall economic climate of Kentucky.”

Gov. Matt Bevin and other Republicans have touted the law as a factor in recent economic development initiatives, including Braidy Industries, a $1.3 billion aluminum plant planned for Greenup County.

Since the law passed, 16,000 Kentucky workers have opted out of paying union dues, according to an editorial published in the Wall Street Journal over the summer.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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