House Republicans' right-to-work bill offers hint at GOP message in 2014 elections

02/27/2014 06:54 PM

Republican lawmakers on Thursday launched their push for right-to-work legislation to end the ability of unions to sign contracts with employers that require workers to be union members — an effort that will likely surface in state House races this fall as well.

House Republican Jeff Hoover of Jamestown, the sponsor of the bill, said the Republican lawmakers support the right of a person to join a union, but they also believe the employee should have the right to choose whether or not they want to join.

“But equally important to the folks who are standing behind me today is economic development and economic improvement for the citizens of Kentucky,” Hoover said.

He said Republicans will be accused of being ant-union, but said that’s not the case. Here’s what he added:

House Democratic leaders, who control the lower chamber 54-46, are opposed to the measure making it highly unlikely the bill will become law this session. But it could factor into the message GOP candidates use during this fall’s House races where control of the chamber is at stake.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, echoed Hoover’s message of making the state more competitive adding that he is glad to see the House Republicans take this first step to making Kentucky a right-to-work state.

The legislation also has the support of business leaders who said they have seen companies pass on bringing their business to the state because of the state does not have a right to work law.

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Dave Adkisson said passing the legislation would send a message to companies that the state is pro-business.

“It was so painful when we would lose a prospect to another southern state that was a right to work state. And the prospect would tell us that was a significant factor in their decision,” Adkisson said.

Union members descended upon the press conference to ask Hoover and other Republicans why they believe the legislation won’t hurt the state.

And the president of the Kentucky AFL-CIO says they have not heard any members complain about paying their dues and benefiting from collective bargaining.

“This is a total top-down approach to try to undermine the ability unions to represent members and to tell folks we cant bring companies to this state when they have been coming here in droves,” Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan said.

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