With Republicans in full control of legislature, head of state labor group airs concerns with right-to-work, prevailing wage repeal

12/28/2016 02:25 PM

Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan says he expects workers’ wages to take a hit if a right-to-work law is passed in next year’s legislative session, a near certainty with Republicans in firm control of both the House and Senate.

Republicans have pushed to make Kentucky the 27th right-to-work state in the U.S. in recent years, an initiative that has been blocked in the Democrat-led House of Representatives. The 17-seat swing for the GOP on Election Day propelled them to a supermajority in the lower chamber, smoothing the issue’s path in 2017’s 30-day session.

In a recent interview with Pure Politics, Londrigan said passing such a law, which would end compulsory union membership and requirements for non-union employees to pay dues to the groups at union shops, would stifle workers’ wages across the board.

Right-to-work laws are an effort to “basically undermine unions and weaken our ability to provide the services that we’re at law required to provide,” he said.

“What folks need to understand, in a right-to-work state you’ve got no opportunity to negotiate a contract with an employer that requires the payment of the fees for the services that are provided, and those services are critical, and those services include collective bargaining agreements that protect workers, that take away the element of at-will employment, that also provide benefits,” Londrigan said (7:40 in the interview). “Health care, retirement benefits, safety, things of this nature, plus we have grievance procedures.”

A statewide right-to-work law would be the second blow to labor groups recently after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in November that local governments in Kentucky can enact right-to-work ordinances.

Lawmakers are also poised to target prevailing wage requirements on public works projects in the upcoming session.

Londrigan says the benefits of repealing the prevailing wage are overstated because labor costs account for about 20 percent of projects’ budgets.

“The proponents are out here saying, ‘Well we can save ridiculous amounts of money on the projects because we lower these wages,’ but when you look at the total cost of the project, those wages are only a small portion of the project,” Londrigan said (12:30 in the interview). “You have to almost wipe out wages completely in order to make up for the great percentages of savings they’re supposed to derive from not having prevailing wage.”

Watch the full interview with Londrigan here:

6 Comments

Comments

  • Cumberland Gap wrote on December 29, 2016 09:45 AM :

    It’s interesting to see Republicans want to enable the people that have better wages, training, and benefits (union) to not pay dues to the union that brought them these better living conditions. The person who can do that is a freeloader. Getting something for nothing. The Republicans are promoting freeloaders, the takers.

    Plus, they are hurting families but always call themselves pro-family? It’s easy to get away with this stuff in Kentucky.

  • Randolph Wieck wrote on December 29, 2016 09:51 AM :

    Bill Londrigan might consider joining the Teacher Retirement Legal Fund’s lawsuit v. the Governor’s office and the KY legislature for the destruction, through perennial underfunding, of the Kentucky Teacher Retirement System. It was filed by a group of 30 fed-up teachers November 29 in the Franklin Circuit Court.
    The unions lost many votes to the Republicans because JCTA’s Brent McKim and KEA did nothing to defend this pension for 10 years. It is currently funded at only 35%, lowest in the US, and there are 140,000 teachers in KY who stand to suffer. That’s a lot of votes, and a lot of potential support that is currently leaking to the Republicans.

  • Randolph Wieck wrote on December 29, 2016 09:51 AM :

    Bill Londrigan might consider joining the Teacher Retirement Legal Fund’s lawsuit v. the Governor’s office and the KY legislature for the destruction, through perennial underfunding, of the Kentucky Teacher Retirement System. It was filed by a group of 30 fed-up teachers November 29 in the Franklin Circuit Court.
    The unions lost many votes to the Republicans because JCTA’s Brent McKim and KEA did nothing to defend this pension for 10 years. It is currently funded at only 35%, lowest in the US, and there are 140,000 teachers in KY who stand to suffer. That’s a lot of votes, and a lot of potential support that is currently leaking to the Republicans.

  • Randolph Wieck wrote on December 29, 2016 09:52 AM :

    Bill Londrigan might consider joining the Teacher Retirement Legal Fund’s lawsuit v. the Governor’s office and the KY legislature for the destruction, through perennial underfunding, of the Kentucky Teacher Retirement System. It was filed by a group of 30 fed-up teachers November 29 in the Franklin Circuit Court.
    The unions lost many votes to the Republicans because JCTA’s Brent McKim and KEA did nothing to defend this pension for 10 years. It is currently funded at only 35%, lowest in the US, and there are 140,000 teachers in KY who stand to suffer. That’s a lot of votes, and a lot of potential support that is currently leaking to the Republicans.

  • viewer wrote on December 29, 2016 11:56 AM :

    Good morning friends. I am not for either of these bills the Chamber of Commerce is pushing and will be passed by the republican led Senate and House and will eventually be signed by the republican governor, Matt Bevin.

    I have a love hate relationship with the union. I can see a lot of good effects the unions have had on the American middle class, but I also see how the all-in support of the democrat political party has led to many of the problems and the dwindling of the middle class, today. As for the Kentucky Teachers Union, their leadership has totally failed the teachers, and it has gotten in bed with the big money people. They have not done their due diligence. This is one of the big reasons it is difficult to support the unions and their causes.

    I have a few friends and family members who are teachers. Over the years, I have been on here typing about somebody needing to do something about this pension system getting out of hand. At the same time, it is difficult to talk to people about their finances. That is as personal of an issue as you can get. So, two years ago, I called a friend, who is highly intelligent, been involved with the school systems for about 30 years. Let’s just say that he is pretty high up the ladder in the hierarchy of the education operational system. I just flat asked him. Why are the teachers not saying something and getting involved in the underfunding of their pension systems? He was thrown off guard, at first, by my question. Then, he was a bit shocked by me asking about his personal business. Then, he replied that it was my republican party making stuff up to hurt the Teacher’s Association. I said that he has known me for years, and even though I am a republican, he knew better than to say that about me. I asked him to call his friends in leadership to see what he could find out. So, a few weeks later, he responds. He comes off, word for word, verbatim, the same talking points that Greg Stumbo and Jody Richards spoke for years. It was all good. This was about nothing. Republican rhetoric was all it was. The pension is solvent for the next 30 years, if not another dime was put in it. I told him that was not true. Finally, about a month after that conversation, we got his types to dig in and ask more questions. That is why I came on here and asked no republicans to ever speak again, about the lack of urgency, and that this wasn’t going to be solvent for the next 30 years, if we didn’t act. Those talking points took on a life of their own. No matter how many times you tell a lie. It is still a lie.

    So, now, I ask Bill Londrigan and anyone at the KTA. What took you so long?

    The AFL-CIO and Bill Londrigan are victims of their own success over the years. They didn’t stay on top of things. All they worried about was keeping the democrats in power. No matter how bad it was. No matter how dysfunctional it was, or how bad the numbers got. If Greg Stumbo was Speaker of the House, their leadership, or lack there of, would suffice. This is the truth, friends. Not that my opinion matters, but if I was a part of the AFL-CIO, in Kentucky, I would be demanding that Bill Londrigan step down. I would want new leadership brought in, with new ideas. Bill is a good person, but his usefulness went out the door election night, with Greg Stumbo’s defeat.

    Friends, nothing is going to change, if Washington doesn’t change. These trade agreements that we have signed 30 years ago, have hollowed out the middle class. The main problem I see is that too few know how the economy works. I hear the argument about the cheap goods. I hear about all the money China loans us, but no one seems to understand the flip side to that coin. Without the middle class having disposable income with purchasing power, everything after that is a mute point. I could write the rest of my life on how bad these trade agreements are for our country and our people. Listening to these people, the Chamber types, the political pundits, politicians who have never created a single job themselves, sell a bill of goods that is destroying the middle class fiber of our country, is like living in the Twilight Zone. I am hoping that President Elect Trump holds firm on bringing our jobs back from China. The top 5% of American wage earners are the only ones who benefit from these trade agreements. The wage divide between the fifth and the first is expanding by just as wide a margin as the remaining 95%. The top 1% of American wage earners amass 87% of the gross revenue, in this country. These are numbers that should shock the world, but somehow we don’t get it.

    Friends, in 2017, I am going to focus on mental health and job issues. That is all I am going to be working on and dealing with. As many of you know, this drug crisis has taken away too many of my loved ones. Over the years, it has caught up with me. I believe that I have hit the depression stage, with a little help from Bud Light. I gave up the whiskey, when I began this and fooled myself into thinking I could drink a couple of beers a night. Those couple of beers led to six a night and so on… Going forward, I am going to try to use my experience to bring some knowledge to the mental health and addiction problems we have in this state. Lack of opportunity was not my downfall, but too many of our fellow Kentuckians are succumbing to addiction because of the lackluster economy. I see the economy as a major driver in this drug epidemic we are experiencing.

    With this new technology, our lack of sensible trade agreements, and machines, I don’t see many upsides to our economy. If Trump doesn’t keep his word on bringing some of these jobs back, we will see further decline in living wages and more growth of temp services filling holes when seasonal demand is at its highest. I will work with anyone who is fighting for the middle class. Although, the American middle class is not the majority anymore, I still believe it can be. If we get in here and speak truth to power, see the rhetoric for what it is- rhetoric, we can bring sensible reforms and get back to what the unions were all about, before they, too, got in bed with the elite political class. Career politicians will not get us out of the downward spiral we are in. Too many don’t know how to; while the few, who do, are in bed with the special interests and won’t risk losing the needed campaign financing. This has to be a group effort conducted by our fellow citizens. The viewer.

  • viewer wrote on December 29, 2016 11:59 AM :

    Good morning friends. I am not for either of these bills the Chamber of Commerce is pushing and will be passed by the republican led Senate and House and will eventually be signed by the republican governor, Matt Bevin.

    I have a love hate relationship with the union. I can see a lot of good effects the unions have had on the American middle class, but I also see how the all-in support of the democrat political party has led to many of the problems and the dwindling of the middle class, today. As for the Kentucky Teachers Union, their leadership has totally failed the teachers, and it has gotten in bed with the big money people. They have not done their due diligence. This is one of the big reasons it is difficult to support the unions and their causes.

    I have a few friends and family members who are teachers. Over the years, I have been on here typing about somebody needing to do something about this pension system getting out of hand. At the same time, it is difficult to talk to people about their finances. That is as personal of an issue as you can get. So, two years ago, I called a friend, who is highly intelligent, been involved with the school systems for about 30 years. Let’s just say that he is pretty high up the ladder in the hierarchy of the education operational system. I just flat asked him. Why are the teachers not saying something and getting involved in the underfunding of their pension systems? He was thrown off guard, at first, by my question. Then, he was a bit shocked by me asking about his personal business. Then, he replied that it was my republican party making stuff up to hurt the Teacher’s Association. I said that he has known me for years, and even though I am a republican, he knew better than to say that about me. I asked him to call his friends in leadership to see what he could find out. So, a few weeks later, he responds. He comes off, word for word, verbatim, the same talking points that Greg Stumbo and Jody Richards spoke for years. It was all good. This was about nothing. Republican rhetoric was all it was. The pension is solvent for the next 30 years, if not another dime was put in it. I told him that was not true. Finally, about a month after that conversation, we got his types to dig in and ask more questions. That is why I came on here and asked no republicans to ever speak again, about the lack of urgency, and that this wasn’t going to be solvent for the next 30 years, if we didn’t act. Those talking points took on a life of their own. No matter how many times you tell a lie. It is still a lie.

    So, now, I ask Bill Londrigan and anyone at the KTA. What took you so long?

    The AFL-CIO and Bill Londrigan are victims of their own success over the years. They didn’t stay on top of things. All they worried about was keeping the democrats in power. No matter how bad it was. No matter how dysfunctional it was, or how bad the numbers got. If Greg Stumbo was Speaker of the House, their leadership, or lack there of, would suffice. This is the truth, friends. Not that my opinion matters, but if I was a part of the AFL-CIO, in Kentucky, I would be demanding that Bill Londrigan step down. I would want new leadership brought in, with new ideas. Bill is a good person, but his usefulness went out the door election night, with Greg Stumbo’s defeat.

    Friends, nothing is going to change, if Washington doesn’t change. These trade agreements that we have signed 30 years ago, have hollowed out the middle class. The main problem I see is that too few know how the economy works. I hear the argument about the cheap goods. I hear about all the money China loans us, but no one seems to understand the flip side to that coin. Without the middle class having disposable income with purchasing power, everything after that is a mute point. I could write the rest of my life on how bad these trade agreements are for our country and our people. Listening to these people, the Chamber types, the political pundits, politicians who have never created a single job themselves, sell a bill of goods that is destroying the middle class fiber of our country, is like living in the Twilight Zone. I am hoping that President Elect Trump holds firm on bringing our jobs back from China. The top 5% of American wage earners are the only ones who benefit from these trade agreements. The wage divide between the fifth and the first is expanding by just as wide a margin as the remaining 95%. The top 1% of American wage earners amass 87% of the gross revenue, in this country. These are numbers that should shock the world, but somehow we don’t get it.

    Friends, in 2017, I am going to focus on mental health and job issues. That is all I am going to be working on and dealing with. As many of you know, this drug crisis has taken away too many of my loved ones. Over the years, it has caught up with me. I believe that I have hit the depression stage, with a little help from Bud Light. I gave up the whiskey, when I began this and fooled myself into thinking I could drink a couple of beers a night. Those couple of beers led to six a night and so on… Going forward, I am going to try to use my experience to bring some knowledge to the mental health and addiction problems we have in this state. Lack of opportunity was not my downfall, but too many of our fellow Kentuckians are succumbing to addiction because of the lackluster economy. I see the economy as a major driver in this drug epidemic we are experiencing.

    With this new technology, our lack of sensible trade agreements, and machines, I don’t see many upsides to our economy. If Trump doesn’t keep his word on bringing some of these jobs back, we will see further decline in living wages and more growth of temp services filling holes when seasonal demand is at its highest. I will work with anyone who is fighting for the middle class. Although, the American middle class is not the majority anymore, I still believe it can be. If we get in here and speak truth to power, see the rhetoric for what it is- rhetoric, we can bring sensible reforms and get back to what the unions were all about, before they, too, got in bed with the elite political class. Career politicians will not get us out of the downward spiral we are in. Too many don’t know how to; while the few, who do, are in bed with the special interests and won’t risk losing the needed campaign financing. This has to be a group effort conducted by our fellow citizens. The viewer.

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