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As Kentucky Counties Pass Local Right-to-Work Laws, Opinions Differ on Their Legality

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is expected to issue a ruling soon on whether counties can legally pass right-to-work laws.  For now, the answer depends on who you ask. 

Professor Ariana Levinson teaches labor and employment law at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville.  She believes local ordinances aren’t allowed under the National Labor Relations Act.

"It has an exemption in the act that allows states to pass right-to-work laws, but that exemption is strictly limited to states," Levinson told WKU Public Radio.  "It does not permit local sub-divisions like cities, counties, and municipalities to pass right-to-work laws."

Right-to-work supporters claim local measures are allowed under Kentucky's “County Home Rule,” passed by the General Assembly in 1978.  The law delegates the state’s authority to counties to pass laws for the protection and benefit of their citizens, and for the promotion of economic development. 

The Warren County Fiscal Court is expected to give final approval Friday to a local right-to-work law.  Simpson and Fulton counties will take similar votes by the end of the month.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.