Sunday, December 14, 2014

Kentucky county is passing a local right-to-work law that could well be the first such local ordinance

A Southern Kentucky county believes it will be the first in the nation to pass a local "right to work" law, which prohibits union contracts that require workers to join a union or pay it fees.

The Warren County Fiscal Court, based in Bowling Green, approved the ordinance 5-1 on first reading Thursday and plans to give it final passage Dec. 19. The judge-executive of Simpson County, which separates Warren County from Tennessee, said its fiscal court will consider a similar ordinance at a meeting Tuesday.

It is unclear whether Kentucky counties have the power to pass such laws, and a spokeswoman for Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said he would opine on the matter. Conway is a Democrat running for governor; Democrats generally oppose right-to-work laws because labor unions oppose them so strongly.

The ordinance would be the first local right-to-work law in the nation, says Jim Waters of the Bluegrass Institute, a free-market think tank based in Bowling Green. "Several other counties are ready to do the same," Waters writes. "Some of these counties are led by Democrats; some by Republicans. . . . Our plan is that if enough counties pass their own individual right-to-work ordinances, it will: (1) make it very difficult for opponents and (2) will ultimately force the state House political leadership to make Kentucky the 25th right-to-work state."

Former Bowling Green mayor Eldon Renaud, president of United Auto Workers Local 2164 at the General Motors Corvette plant in Bowling Green, "said he believes that the county’s ordinance is against state law and that right-to-work legislation would require a vote from the legislature," Katie Brandenburg of the Bowling Green Daily News reports.

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