The Richmond Register

State News

March 13, 2014

Right-to-work bill dies in House panel

FRANKFORT — 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 nonunion employees at workplaces represented by unions. Proponents say it allows workers the voluntary choice of whether to join a union, but federal court rulings already prohibit compulsory union membership ― although nonunion 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 antiunion 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.

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

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