Big Labor Targets Pro-Right to Work Governor

During the first two years the Right to Work law signed by Gov. Matt Bevin was in effect, companies pledged to invest a total of roughly $14.5 billion in expansions and new facility locations throughout Kentucky. Credit: Kentucky Today/Tom Latek

Matt Bevin Signed 2017 Law Banning Forced Union Dues and Fees

Union bosses are out for revenge in Kentucky.

This fall, GOP Gov. Matt Bevin — who publicly pledged again and again to sign a ban on compulsory union dues and fees during his successful 2015 campaign to become state chief executive, and fulfilled that promise in January 2017 — is seeking a second term.

But the national union electioneering machine, which is fueled largely by money that millions of workers across the country are forced to fork over as a job condition, appears to be ready to spend whatever it takes to unseat him.

Right to Work Was a ‘Major Issue’ in 2015 Gubernatorial Campaign

Four years ago this November, Kentucky voters opted to make Mr. Bevin their governor by a decisive 85,000-vote margin.

And as even the Big Labor front group, “Keep Ohio’s Heritage,” which union bosses set up specifically for the purpose of safeguarding their forced-dues privileges in the Buckeye State, conceded in a post-election press release, “Right-to-Work . . . was a major issue” in the Kentucky gubernatorial campaign.

The inside-the-Beltway publication Politico emphasized that Right to Work supporters as well as well as opponents carried out major mobilization efforts in October and early November 2015:

“Activists on both sides of the Right-to-Work debate led aggressive outreach in the run-up to the election, and this loss surely stings for the AFL-CIO and its affiliate Working America, which led a massive get-out-the-vote effort,” to defeat Mr. Bevin.

Among several groups seeking to inform freedom-loving Kentuckians about the stark contrast between Matt Bevin and pro-forced unionism Democrat nominee Jack Conway on labor policy, the National Right to Work Committee alone contacted 150,000 households with one or more identified Right to Work supporters.

Gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear (right) is less interesting than a cell phone when he gets to talking about his plans to repeal Right to Work protections in Kentucky! Credit: Luke Sharrett/New York Times

In 2016, Kentuckians Sent Union-Label House Speaker, Much of His Caucus Packing

Even after sending an unmistakable message that they wanted a Right to Work law in 2015, Kentuckians did not get one the following year.

Under Big Labor Democrat Speaker Greg Stumbo, the state House of Representatives remained the sole roadblock to a law protecting the individual employee’s personal freedom to join and financially support a union, or refuse to do either.

National Right to Work President Mark Mix explained:

“Because the overwhelming majority of the Kentucky Senate had already gone on the record in support of a state law curtailing Big Labor’s forced-dues privileges, in 2016 it was up to Speaker Stumbo and his allies to perpetuate them.

“But on November 8, 2016, Mr. Stumbo was defeated, and his caucus shriveled from holding a majority of House seats to holding barely more than a third of them.”

As Kentucky’s 2017 legislative session convened, the National and Kentucky Right to Work Committees contacted more than 100,000 households in the state regarding the legislative ban on forced union dues and fees that was about to come up for House and Senate votes.

After January 2017, Case For Kentucky Right to Work Law Got Stronger and Stronger

The Right to Work Bill was soon approved by the state House, 58-39, and cleared the state Senate, 25-12. Mr. Bevin signed it on January 7, 2017.

Since then, just over two-and-a-half years have gone by.

A lawsuit filed by union bosses against the Right to Work law came before the state Supreme Court in 2018.

When it did, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorney William Messenger, acting on behalf of three independent-minded employees, defended the ban on forced union dues and fees, along with an attorney for the state of Kentucky.

In November 2018, the Kentucky Supreme Court rejected union lawyers’ claims and upheld the Right to Work statute.

Mr. Mix noted:

“Even as Big Labor lawyers tried unsuccessfully to kill Kentucky’s Right to Work law in court in 2017 and 2018, the economic case for the law kept getting stronger and stronger.

“Over the course of those two years, the first two the law was in effect, companies pledged to invest a total of roughly $14.5 billion in expansions and new facility locations throughout Kentucky.

“Kentucky’s best-on-record year for job-creating investments came in 2017. Last year was the state’s second highest-ever investment performance.

“And Kentuckians have ample reason to be optimistic about the future.”

‘We Have Never Had Higher Per Capita Income in This State’

In a December 2018 interview with the West Kentucky Star, Mr. Bevin enthusiastically summed up the state’s recent progress:

“We have never had more Kentuckians working. We have never had higher per capita income in this state. We’ve never had lower unemployment in this state.”

With the threat of a judicially-imposed reimposition of forced unionism out of the way, 2019 is looking more and more like another great year for Kentucky job seekers.

In May, for example, Dajcor Aluminum, Ltd., a Canadian firm, announced it would locate its first-ever U.S. facility in Hazard, Ky. The investment is expected to create up to 265 full-time jobs.

But Big Labor politician Andy Beshear, who is now state attorney general and is running on the ballot against Mr. Bevin in November, is choosing to ignore the manifest improvement in Kentucky’s economy over the past couple of years.

Apparently sensing that it’s what he needs to do to garner the enthusiastic support of national union bosses, upon whose money and manpower he is depending, Mr. Beshear is campaigning as a zealous proponent of monopoly privileges for Big Labor.

When speaking to Big Labor audiences on the campaign trail, Mr. Beshear is often quite blunt about his intentions.

‘The First Thing We’re Going to Do Is Support’ Right to Work Repeal

A few months ago, he told AFL-CIO chiefs and their militant followers in Paducah, Ky.:

“The first thing we’re going to support is a bill that repeals Right to Work, and I’m going to fight like heck to get it passed.”

However, Mr. Beshear rarely brings up his pro-forced unionism stance when he is speaking before more diverse Kentucky audiences.

“Andy Beshear knows full well compulsory unionism today is as unpopular as it ever was among ordinary Kentucky employees and other citizens,” commented Mr. Mix.

“That’s why he’s clearly trying to avoid having to acknowledge his pro-forced unionism stance to the vast numbers of Kentuckians whose support he hopes to get in November, despite the fact that they disagree with him about Right to Work.

“However, thanks to the generosity and persistence of National Right to Work members, Mr. Beshear won’t be able to get away with it.”

National Committee Ready To Publicize Candidate Positions on Right to Work

Right up through Election Day, the Committee will be mobilizing, through its state Survey 2019 program, identified Right to Work supporters in Kentucky and the handful of other states with competitive state elections this year, to contact their candidates.

“Thanks to the Committee’s Survey 2019,” explained Mr. Mix, “Andy Beshear and other union-label candidates will have a choice over the next few weeks.

“They can either repudiate their records of supporting forced unionism despite the fact Americans overwhelmingly oppose it, or they can face the potential political consequences.”

In addition to asking Mr. Beshear to apologize for having kowtowed to Big Labor in the past and to pledge to support Right to Work in the future, over the next few weeks pro-Right to Work Kentuckians will be asking Mr. Bevin to reaffirm his opposition to forced unionism and union monopoly bargaining.