Almost a year ago today the Logan County Fiscal Court unanimously voted to pass an ordinance that made Logan County a Right-to-Work community, joining a handful of Kentucky counties who went out on their own to support Right-to-Work, an initiative they were hoping would bring about economic growth to their communities.
However, U.S. District Judge David Hale ruled Wednesday that counties could not pass such ordinances, nullifying their actions.
Right-to-work laws are statutes in a number of states in the United States that prohibit union security agreements, or agreements between labor unions and employers, that govern the extent to which an established union can require employees’ membership, payment of union dues, or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.
Judge Hale ruled the law did not allow county governments to create such ordinances prohibiting union agreements between employers and the unions. Only states have the authority to do so, according to Hale’s 14-page order.
Hardin County was challenged in a U.S. District Court for passing a Right-to-Work ordinance. Nine other counties in Kentucky including Logan, Warren, Simpson, and Butler joined the lawsuit as defendants.
Judge Executive Logan Chick had said the decision was purely an economic one, and not one against unions. “Logan County would have been be left behind if they sat back and waited while other counties voted to become Right-to-Work,” Chick said on why his court voted on the ordinance. “The states around us in which we compete for industry have already become Right-to-Work. When it comes to locating, industry will most likely go to a state that is Right-to-Work. I’ve heard it myself from those in industry. By the court passing the ordinance we were hoping to send a message along with the counties around us that if someone is looking to move here, we are business friendly. We’ve just got to do what we can to be competitive economically.”
The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office had rendered an opinion earlier saying counties have no authority to pass such law as Right-to-Work. Judge Hale agreed.
Unions representatives say Right-to-Work hurts the unions who have been responsible for protecting the workers interests in this country for decades. According to the National Workrights Institute, who opposes Right-to-Work laws, the title itself is misleading and that Right-to-Work laws do not create a right to work, nor do they protect workers from being fired for unjust reasons. The Institute and other believe that Right-to-Work laws actually allow workers in union shops to accept the benefits of unionizing without paying their share of the costs.
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