right to work

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Governor Bill Lee has announced that he will chair the “Yes on 1” committee, which has a goal of putting Tennessee’s right-to-work law into the state constitution. He’ll work to convince Tennesseans to pass Amendment 1 on the 2022 ballot in November.

Legislators voted to put it on the ballot in April.

The act won’t do much to change current practices, but Jim Brown with the National Federation of Independent Business says it’ll prevent a simple removal of the law in the future. 

“It deserves the extra protection because it’s under attack from the federal level with the PRO Act that was passed twice in the House of Representatives,” Brown said, referring to the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would give protections to workers who choose to unionize. “Gov. [Ralph] Northam in Virginia, you saw in Virginia they talked about getting rid of their right to work law from 1947.”

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Gov. Matt Bevin spent much of his fourth State of the Commonwealth Address praising the Republican-led legislature for passing measures like so-called “right-to-work” legislation, anti-abortion policies and attempting to make changes to state worker pension benefits.

The appreciative tone comes a little more than a month after Bevin chided the General Assembly — which has more than three-fifths majority in each chamber — for quickly ending a specially-called legislative session without passing an overhaul of the pension systems.

Lisa Autry

A new report shows Kentucky has actually added fewer jobs in the 21 months since the controversial right-to-work law was passed in 2017, compared to the same time period before it was enacted.

Laws known as right-to-work prohibit unions from being able to collect what are known as “fair share fees”. Those fees are imposed on non-union employees in exchange for the benefits of being in a unionized workplace.

A report from the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy examines how the law has impacted jobs in the state.

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.”

Updated at 7:08 p.m. ET

In a case involving the rights of tens of millions of private sector employees, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, delivered a major blow to workers, ruling for the first time that workers may not band together to challenge violations of federal labor laws.

WKU Public Radio

The head of the company that is planning to build a $1.3 billion aluminum plant in eastern Kentucky claims the state’s new right-to-work law will help it undercut competitors.

Braidy Industries CEO Craig Bouchard said one of the company’s advantages is that it won’t require workers to join a union — unlike some other competitors in the aluminum business.

“We don’t have any work rules, we don’t have anybody telling us how to run the shop,”  Bouchard said at an event in Louisville Thursday. “We can do what is best for our company, our employees, our shareholders and our community and we know how to do it.”

Becca Schimmel

A Kentucky economist said the state isn’t seeing the kind of employment growth it needs to make up for recession-era job losses.

 

The national unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point in May compared to April. Jason Bailey, with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said rural parts of the commonwealth are still struggling. He cited a loss in coal mining and manufacturing jobs over several years.

Bailey said the celebration of small improvements misrepresents the reality of Kentucky’s employment picture.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin announced Friday that companies have promised to invest $5.8 billion in Kentucky so far this year, breaking a previous yearly record of $5.1 billion.

The governor credited the state’s “right-to-work” law for the commitments. The policy makes union dues optional, and supporters say it makes the state more attractive to companies looking to move to or relocate in the state.

“The decisions made in the legislature matter,” Bevin said. “And the net result of this is a sense of enthusiasm in the business community for what’s happening in Kentucky like it has never happened before.”

Creative Commons

Two union groups have filed a lawsuit to block Kentucky’s new “right-to-work” law.

That law prohibits unions from being able to collect what are known as “fair share fees”.

Those fees are imposed on non-union employees in exchange for the benefits of being in a unionized workplace.

In January, Kentucky became the 27th state to pass such a measure, which supporters say makes the state more competitive when trying to get companies to move to or expand in Kentucky.

Kentucky AFL-CIO president Bill Londrigan said the new law is part of a political strategy to stifle union voices.

Becca Schimmel

Kentucky’s Attorney General Andy Beshear said the state’s new right-to-work law is an example of misplaced priorities. In a recent visit to Western Kentucky University, he said the law won’t lead to the job creation its supporters are seeking.

 

Supporters of right-to-work say it will help Kentucky compete against other states for new jobs.

 

Right to work allows employees to work in unionized facilities without paying union dues. Unions are still legally responsible for collectively bargaining for all employees, and defending all employees in the event of a grievance. Beshear believes right-to-work is bad policy.

 

“I wanted to be Attorney General to better protect families, and all right-to-work does is pay our working families less,” Beshear said.

 

Beshear pointed out Kentucky won Site Selection magazine’s “Governor’s Cup” award for its number of capital investment projects in both 2014 and 2015. The Attorney General said that shows the state was capable of competing for jobs and industry without right-to-work.

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

The Ohio Valley region once helped give rise to the labor movement. Now it’s shifting toward what’s known as right to work. West Virginia and Kentucky have passed right to work laws, and Ohio is considering a similar bill. One of the big selling points for right to work proponents is that the law can attract new businesses. Opponents argue that potential comes at too high a cost to workers.  

Mike Mullis is a site selection consultant who has spent 25 years helping global corporations, such as Toyota, pick the places where they will build major projects. He said some companies – particularly in manufacturing – will perk up when they hear the words “right to work.” However, that doesn’t mean businesses will come flocking to a state.


WKU Public Radio

Workers at unionized companies in Kentucky will be able to stop paying union dues or fees once contracts negotiated between their employers and unions expire.

The so-called “right-to-work” policy signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin last weekend forbids payment of dues as a condition to get or keep a job in Kentucky, though current collective bargaining agreements between unions and companies are still enforceable until they expire.

Bill Londrigan, president of Kentucky’s AFL-CIO, said the new law will have a negative impact on labor organizations and companies once some workers decide they don’t want to pay into the union anymore.

Ryland Barton

The Kentucky legislature has awarded final passage to a handful of bills opposed by labor unions, most notably “right-to-work” legislation that would ban unionized companies from requiring employees to pay dues.

Union activists swarmed the Capitol as lawmakers altered the legislative calendar to meet on Saturday to approve Republican priorities at the end of the legislative session’s first week.

Rep. Stan Lee, a Republican from Lexington, said despite protests, voters showed they wanted conservative legislation when they voted to send GOP supermajorities to both legislative chambers.

WKU Public Radio

The Kentucky General Assembly is on track to approve legislation to make Kentucky a so-called right-to-work state by Saturday night. For Republicans, this is the culmination of years of championing the issue.

The bill passed the House Thursday, and assuming it passes the GOP-controlled Senate and is signed into law by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, Kentucky will become the 27th so-called right-to-work state in the nation.

J. Tyler Franklin

House Republicans have advanced a bill that would ban mandatory labor union membership in Kentucky.

A House committee approved the bill Wednesday. Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover said lawmakers plan to approve the bill this week.

Hundreds of union workers packed the hallways outside of the committee room, chanting “working people matter” and “suits in there, boots out here.”

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