FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 6, 2017) — Legislation that would make Kentucky a right-to-work state was approved today by the Senate State and Local Government Committee.
The proposal, which would make membership in a labor union optional rather than mandatory for workers at unionized workplaces, now goes to the full Senate for consideration. The House of Representatives has already approved the measure, known as House Bill 1, a designation given to House leadership’s top priority bill.
Testifying in support of the measure at today’s meeting, House Speaker Jeff Hoover (R-Jamestown) a primary sponsor of HB 1, said the legislation would boost Kentucky’s labor market.
“Right-to-work is simply the name given to the ability of an employee to negotiate his or her wages and negotiate his or her benefits directly with the employer without being compelled to be a member of a labor union,” said Hoover. “I don’t see why government should stand in the way of a worker opting to not join and be given the ability to negotiate on their own if they so choose.”
Hoover said private sector employment grew 17.4 percent in right-to-work states between 2001 and 2013, more than double the 8.2 percent in states that don’t have right-to-work laws.
Rep. Jim DeCesare (R-Bowling Green) a primary sponsor of HB 1, said Kentucky has lost job-creating opportunities to other states that have right-to-work laws. “The governor has an initiative to make Kentucky the epicenter of advanced manufacturing in the world. … There’s no reason why we can’t expand our economic opportunities by passing right-to-work legislation,” he said.