TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

State News

March 14, 2014

Right-to-work law fails in committee

CORBIN — By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service

The sponsor of a right-to-work law in Kentucky knew it had no chance of passing a House committee Thursday.

But that didn’t stop Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, the House Minority Leader, and several others from making their case before the House Labor and Industry Committee in a room filled to overflowing, mostly with union members who oppose the measure.

Such legislation prohibits unions from charging dues to non-union employees at workplaces represented by unions. Proponents say it allows workers the voluntary choice of whether or not to join a union, but federal court rulings already prohibit compulsory union members — although non-union members may still be assessed a fee to help pay union negotiating expenses.

Opponents of such legislation say it’s designed to destroy unions.

Hoover, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce chief David Adkisson, Greg Mourad, of the National Right to Work Committee, and others tried to persuade lawmakers the measure would mean more jobs for Kentucky. They repeatedly assured the committee the bill is not an anti-union measure.

It didn’t work. The committee voted 15-4 against sending the bill out of committee and two Republicans voted with the majority. Most took time to explain their votes in favor of collective bargaining, drawing applause from the union members.

“I am confident some will attempt to demonize myself and others that say this legislation is anti-union, but it’s not,” Hoover said. Adkisson said he is “absolutely convinced” Kentucky has lost out to other right-to-work states in recruiting manufacturers to the state.

They cited statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Department of Commerce which indicate Kentucky lags economically behind other states, including most of the 24 which have passed right-to-work laws.

Mourand said unions have “tyrannical power” to “compel an individual to join a private organization and support its goals.”

But Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan rebutted their argument with statistics of his own, usually from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and he quoted federal law, the U.S. Supreme Court and the website of right-to-work proponents to counter Mourad’s contention of forced union membership.

Londrigan scoffed at proponents’ contention the legislation isn’t anti-union, quoting former President Harry Truman who said such legislation was “like saying you are for motherhood but against children.”

Londrigan also cited press stories and government data which indicate more businesses closed in Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee in the year after each passed right-to-work laws than the number of new businesses opened and that unemployment went up in each state.

The room was packed with union members and they cheered several of Londrigan’s comments and statements by sympathetic lawmakers. In the end, the measure failed 15-4, with all Democrats voting against the measure while two Republicans, C.B. Embry and Jim Stewart, joined them. Four Republicans — Lynn Bechler, Regina Bunch, Toby Herald and Adam Koenig — voted for the bill.

Later Hoover issued a statement saying his bill would help Kentucky compete with such RTW states as Tennessee.

He accused opponents of a political agenda, although Republicans will likely try to use the Democrats’ votes against them in some elections this fall, something Hoover alluded to in the statement.

“Simply put, those who oppose it are placing their own partisan political needs above good public policy that will benefit Kentucky much like it has benefited other states where right to work has been enacted. Because of that, we will remain less competitive until such time Frankfort and the House of Representatives changes direction.”

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
State News
  • Grimes comes out firing on McConnell

    Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State who is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in this fall’s elections, went after the five-term incumbent in a speech here to a convention of local county officials.

    July 11, 2014

  • Conway, Comer address judge-execs

    It might have been a preview of next year’s Kentucky governor’s election — but county officials here for a convention probably didn’t expect one likely candidate to endorse a potential opponent.

    July 11, 2014

  • McConnell, Grimes parade cases

    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes know a good place to look for votes when they see it.

    July 7, 2014

  • McConnell, Grimes disagree on contraception case

    Kentucky’s Republican congressman praised Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that corporations may opt out of a requirement to provide employees contraceptive coverage through insurance plans.

    July 1, 2014

  • Beshear sings praises of Affordable Care Act

    Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told a Washington conference Tuesday that Kentucky’s embrace of the Affordable Care Act has been “life-changing” for thousands of Kentucky enrollees and “transformative” for Kentucky.

    June 18, 2014

  • Kentucky actually fares well under new EPA regs

    Kentucky politicians and the coal industry howled about the latest installment of greenhouse gas emission regulations issued last week by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

    June 16, 2014

  • New EPA C02 regs examined

    Given their complexity and potential impact in coal-dependent states like Kentucky, there’s considerable confusion about new carbon emission regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

    June 16, 2014

  • State budget officials predict ‘significant shortfall’

    With only 20 days left in the 2014 fiscal year, state budget officials announced Tuesday Kentucky faces an “inevitable” and “significant” revenue shortfall in both the General and Road Funds.

    June 11, 2014

  • Grimes ad blasts Obama for coal policies

    Mitch McConnell is no longer the only U.S. Senate candidate running against Democratic President Barack Obama.

    June 5, 2014

  • Legislative leaders blast carbon regs

    President Barack Obama’s efforts to rein in carbon emissions, blamed by science for changes in the climate, continues to draw harsh criticism from both political parties in Kentucky.

    June 5, 2014