LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Alison Lundergan Grimes stepped to the microphone to accept the
Kentucky AFL-CIO's endorsement in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race on Tuesday less than one hour
after five-term Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to announce
his amendment to make Right to Work the law of the land.
Labor leaders argue that Right to Work laws are union-busting measures which diminish union
membership levels and lead to lower wages.
"It merely calls for repealing the discriminatory clauses in federal law that allow, as a condition of employment, forcing workers to join a union or forcing workers to pay union dues," McConnell explained, arguing it is common sense and basic fairness that workers should be able to decide whether joining a union is right for them.
In comments to reporters, Grimes said the issue draws a "strict contrast" in the 2014 race.
"Right to Work is simply wrong for Kentucky," Grimes said. "It's about recognizing and knowing that Labor has literally lifted millions out of poverty and that it is Labor is the way we are going to continue to grow the middle class of this state and make sure that everyone has an equal voice especially at the bargaining table."
Labor leaders howled at McConnell's measure, which is co-sponsored by Kentucky's junior Senator Rand Paul (R).
"I just think if we needed another reason to get rid of Mitch McConnell, that's one," said Bill
Londrigen, Kentucky AFL-CIO President.
In his Senate remarks, McConnell said "Union bosses," entrenched special interests and the "Professional Left" lead the opposition to Right to Work.
"This amendment isn’t just about ending institutional discrimination against workers," McConnell said. "It’s also about job creation, economic growth, and making America more competitive in the 21st Century."
McConnell is seeking to attach the amendment to a bill he does not support -- the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDS) extends job protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.
"At the end of the day, we're talking about making sure that no Kentuckian is discriminated against, that they have a workplace free of discrimination," Grimes said. "And inserting it into the ENDA legislation is just further proof that neither believes in the Golden Rule which was what I am about as not only a Kentuckian as Secretary of State but it's about making sure that Kentuckians are judged truly for the work that they perform each and every day, not on the basis of orientation or identity."
Londrigen said McConnell's stance is energizing union members as they support Grimes' challenge.
"Of course it will be important because she relates to working families," Londrigen told WHAS11. "She relates to us trade unionists and she's going to get all of our support."
"We're going to do everything we can to get rid of Mitch McConnell," Londrigen continued. "And we've been working on that for quite a few years now and Alison is the best candidate we've ever had and she's going to win."
Londrigen said it is the earliest the AFL-CIO has ever endorsed in a Kentucky Senate race.
While many endorsements are simply a stamp of approval, this one brings the muscle and organizing skills of unions to Grimes "Get out the vote" effort.
"Knocking on the doors, calling them on the phone, those are all the things that we will do to get our members and their families out to vote this election," Londrigen said. "When we get our members out to vote, we will win."