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GOP hopes Kentucky is next Right to Work state

GOP hopes Kentucky is next Right to Work state

by Joe Arnold


Posted on February 27, 2014 at 6:37 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Kentucky business leaders say it's about becoming more competitive. Labor leaders say it's union busting.

The Right to Work debate is coming back to Kentucky with the filing of legislation on Thursday by House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover (R-Jamestown).

"We believe this is probably the most important issue that we can advocate to create jobs in Kentucky," Hoover told WHAS11.

Right to Work laws prevent a worker from being forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment. 

Backed by dozens of Republican legislators and business leaders in a Capitol Annex hearing room, the House's top Republican acknowledged the issue is controversial.

A Right to Work initiative by Gov. Ernie Fletcher in 2006 sparked union protests.  In 2011, labor activists swarmed the Indiana State Capitol.

Union members descended upon Hoover's news conference on Thursday.

"What do you Republicans have against workers rights?" shouted one man at the end of the event.

Supporters say it's about making Kentucky more competitive as the state loses thousands of jobs to other states that now have Right to Work laws.  25 other states already have such laws, including Indiana and Tennessee.

"Not because the businesses are inherently anti-labor," said Dave Adkisson, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President.  "But because they are inherently pro-jobs and pro-growth.

"They are basically just anti-union," said Bill Londrigen, Kentucky AFL-CIO President. "They don't want to see workers have a good wage and they don't want them to have a voice on the job and that's what we provide them with."

"Of course it's union busting," Londrigen continued.  "It's undermining our ability to represent our members because it drains us of financial resources. They all know that."

"It's not about busting unions at all," Hoover said.  "It's about giving employees an opportunity to have a choice."

Asked if proposing the legislation now is more about making it an issue for the 2014 mid-term elections than this session, Hoover said it was not.

"I mean, we believe very strongly in this issue," Hoover said.

Right to Work is also an issue in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race.  Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell (R) and GOP challenger Matt Bevin favor the idea. 

Backed by labor unions, Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) is opposed.