Kentucky Elects Pro-Right to Work Governor

Major 2016 Fight Over Compulsory-Dues Repeal Looms in Frankfort

(source: National Right to Work December 2015 Newsletter)

This fall Big Labor dipped heavily into its forced union dues-funded treasuries to wage extensive voter I.D. and get-out-the-vote drives to ensure Democrat Attorney General Jack Conway became the Bluegrass State’s next governor.Matt-Bevin-pictured-here-with-his-wife

And union bosses weren’t shy about acknowledging the fact that the #1 reason they supported Mr. Conway was his diehard opposition to Right to Work and his opponent Matt Bevin’s unabashed support for it.

But in the end, the union machine didn’t prevail.

‘This Loss Surely Stings For the AFL-CIO and Its Affiliate Working America’

On Election Night, Kentucky voters opted to make Mr. Bevin the state’s next 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 opponents carried out major mobilization efforts in October and early November:

“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 elect Conway.”

Among several groups seeking to inform freedom-loving Kentuckians about the stark contrast between the gubernatorial nominees on labor policy, the National Right to Work Committee alone contacted 150,000 households with one or more identified Right to Work supporters in Kentucky.

Survey Mailings Let Citizens Know Where Candidates Stood

Each of these households received a series of mailings highlighting the fact that Mr. Bevin had completed and signed a survey from the Frankfort-based, grassroots Kentucky Right to Work Committee, pledging 100% opposition to forced unionism.

They were also notified that Mr. Conway and Independent candidate Drew Curtis had both refused to answer their candidate surveys and made public statements vowing to oppose statewide Right to Work legislation if elected.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Bevin tended to cite the superior economic performance of states that have Right to Work laws, now 25 in number, as the key reason he favors ending Big Labor’s forced-dues privileges in Kentucky.

For example, this summer he told WYMT-TV in eastern Kentucky: “We are the only state in the South that doesn’t have Right-to-Work legislation” — leaving the Bluegrass State at an economic disadvantage, he contended.

Kentucky’s 10-Year Real Compensation Growth: Only 19% of Right to Work Average

“There is indeed an enormous amount of evidence that states benefit economically from prohibiting forced union dues and fees,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee.

“For instance, from 2004 to 2014, private-sector outlays for employee wages, salaries, and bonuses and noncash compensation grew by an inflation-adjusted 15.5% in the 22 states that had Right to Work laws on the books for the whole decade.

“That’s more than five times as much real private-sector compensation growth as Kentucky experienced over the same period, and nearly double the real compensation growth in forced-unionism states as a group.

“And of course forced unionism is just plain wrong.

“In Kentucky today, it’s illegal under all circumstances for employers to fire employees for joining and/or financially supporting a union.

“But current policy authorizes and encourages employer/union-boss pacts to fire employees who refuse to support a union they would not join voluntarily.

“The fact is, the right not to support a union is just as deserving of legal protection as the right to join.”

Kentucky House of Representatives Still Run By Union-Label Speaker

For years, scientific polls have shown that the vast majority of Kentuckians agree that the individual employee’s freedom to join or not join a union should be equally protected under the law.

For example, a 2014 poll sponsored by WKYT-TV in Lexington, WHAS-TV in Louisville, and the principal newspapers in the same cities showed registered voters support Right to Work by a two-to-one margin.

But getting a Right to Work law to Gov. Bevin’s desk next year won’t be easy.

While an overwhelming majority of the Kentucky Senate has already gone on the record in support of a statewide law sharply curtailing Big Labor’s forced-unionism privileges, Big Labor Democrat Speaker Greg Stumbo (Prestonsburg) will continue to hold the reins of the state House.

And the fact that a Democrat caucus headed by Mr. Stumbo and other union-label politicians will hold a 53-45 partisan majority in the House is not the only major obstacle in the chamber for Right to Work supporters, noted Mr. Mix.

“While the vast majority of Republican representatives in Kentucky are likely to vote for Right to Work in 2016,” he said, “a handful of them have histories of supporting forced unionism.

“Consequently, in order to pass a Kentucky Right to Work law, grass-roots Right to Work supporters will either have to persuade key ‘swing’ politicians in the rank-and-file of both House caucuses to vote for Right to Work, or replace them in next year’s elections.”

An ‘Unsuccessful’ Floor Vote Will Still Pave Way For Right to Work Passage

Mr. Mix vowed that, once legislation to make Kentucky America’s 26th state to ban forced union dues and fees is introduced next year, the National Committee will work closely with the Kentucky Right to Work Committee and other state and national groups to fight for its enactment.

“It is just possible that, because they know compulsory unionism is profoundly unpopular in Kentucky,” he observed, “state Democrat leaders will allow a few  of their caucus members to support Right to Work just to get the issue off the table before the 2016 Elections.

“It is also possible that even the House Republicans who have records of Big Labor appeasement will decide they have to change course now in the wake of the election by a nine-point margin of a GOP governor who made enactment of a Right to Work law a major plank in his platform.

“But even if union lobbyists succeed in blocking Right to Work in a House floor showdown next year, the roll call will pave the way for future passage of Right to Work.

“That’s because it will let freedom-loving Kentuckians know exactly which politicians are on their side, and which are in Big Labor’s pocket.”