Senate's right-to-work bill killed in House committee

02/12/2015 03:48 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would have made Kentucky a right-to-work state, which would essentially end closed union shops, was soundly defeated on Thursday before a packed pro-union crowd during the House Committee on Labor and Industry.

Senate Bill 1 sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, would have enabled workers to choose not to join a labor union at their place of employment if they elected not to.

Stivers feels that right-to-work is a “tool” that can be used for economic development.

“We’ve had a pretty good year in the creation of jobs,” Stivers said. “But what I think this would do and what I’ve been informed by perspective individuals in my travels, is that if you are not a Right to Work state, there are entities that it will either be a mark against you and you’ll have to have a better environment, a better taxing code, better work force, before they will consider you.”

Union representatives said the bill, which is one of the Senate’s top priorities, not only leads to lower wages but also stifles financial growth for families.

“Nine out of ten states listed as the worst financial security are Right to Work states,” said Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan. “Eight out of the ten have the highest poverty rate. Right to Work leads to lower wages for all workers, not just union members, less benefits, less safety.”

Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, who voted against the bill, says that workers do actually have a choice on whether they want to join a union or not.

“What I would say to people who don’t want to pay union dues, look for a place that doesn’t have a union,” Belcher said.

Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, who was one of five Republicans to vote in favor of the bill is convinced that enacting right-to-work laws would create jobs in the state.

“I’ve talked to too many economic development professionals over the years who have told me that we don’t even get on the list,” Koenig said.

Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, said he believes the state is doing well without ending closed union shops and he has concerns about areas like Warren County, who have enacted a local ordinance.

“There are suits going on in this state over local county governments adopting Right to Work policies,” Yonts said. “They have no jurisdiction to that. We, as a General Assembly are exercising our jurisdiction this morning in killing this issue.”


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.