Kentucky ‘Wouldn’t Have Been on the List’

According to CEO Craig Bouchard (right), until the first week of January, no Kentucky locations were being considered for his firm’s planned aluminum plant. Then Gov. Matt Bevin (left) signed the state’s Right to Work law. (credit: AP photo/adam beam)

Right to Work Made Job-Creating $1.3 Billion Investment Possible

On April 26, residents of Greenup County in eastern Kentucky got great news.

That afternoon, Bluegrass State Gov. Matt Bevin and Craig Bouchard, CEO of Braidy Industries Inc., held a joint press conference in Wurtland, Ky., to announce that the company would invest $1.3 billion to build an aluminum mill off U.S. 23 roughly 15 miles northwest of Ashland.

National Right to Work Helped Kentuckians Ban Forced Union Dues, Fees

Construction will begin in 2018.  When the plant is finished, it will hire roughly 550 workers for jobs paying $38 an hour plus benefits.

In speaking to reporters, Mr. Bouchard bluntly stated that Kentucky’s adoption of the 27th state Right to Work law in January was a “make or break” factor in his company’s decision to locate in Greenup County.  Without Right to Work, he said, Kentucky “wouldn’t have been on the list.”

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen said the selection of Greenup County as the site for the Braidy rolling mill, which will open with a capacity of 370,000 tons per annum, adds to the mountain of evidence that Kentucky’s grass-roots foes of forced unionism were right all along.

“Right to Work supporters played a key role two years ago in helping Mr. Bevin, who had pledged to make unionism voluntary, secure the Kentucky governorship by a decisive 85,000-vote margin,” recalled Mr. Leen.

“And after Big Labor House Speaker Greg Stumbo [Prestonburg] thwarted Mr. Bevin’s efforts to end Kentucky’s status as a forced-unionism state in 2016, these same grass-roots citizens ousted Mr. Stumbo from office and reduced overall House Right to Work opposition from an estimated 60-40 majority to a 58-39 minority.

“Throughout the multiyear campaign to revoke Kentucky union officials’ forced-dues and forced-fee privileges, the National Committee and its members gave encouragement and counsel to the state’s freedom-loving citizens.”

Governor Predicted H.B.1 Would Mean ‘Incredible New Opportunities’ For State

“All these efforts,” Mr. Leen continued, “came to fruition this January 7, when Mr. Bevin signed Right to Work measure H.B.1, declaring that it would mean ‘incredible new opportunities for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.’

“Not surprisingly, Big Labor politicians scoffed at the predictions of Mr. Bevin and other Right to Work advocates.

“Union-label House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins [Morehead] insisted, without offering any meaningful evidence, that Right to Work would be bad for the ‘hardworking middle class.’

“But now even Mr. Adkins acknowledges that the impact of the Braidy facility, which wouldn’t have happened without Right to Work, ‘will be positive for the region for generations to come.’”

Firm Had Been Considering Twenty-Four Possible Locations Outside of Kentucky

According to a detailed report for the Associated Press by journalist Adam Beam, Braidy Industries had been considering 24 locations, all of them outside of Kentucky, before the Bluegrass State scored, as Mr. Bouchard put it, a “come from behind win.”

Mr. Beam explained that Kentucky joined the list of possible sites only after the first week in January, when “the Republican-controlled legislature banned companies from deducting mandatory union dues from employee paychecks.”

A separate account for the Ironton (Ohio) Tribune by reporter Jeremy Wells cited Mr. Bouchard’s plan to be producing 20% of the aluminum going into domestically manufactured automobiles:

“He said that he felt [union work rules] were too rigid for him to be able to run his company as he saw fit and for the flexibility that was needed for his company to succeed.”

Given the high wages offered by the firm, especially when Kentucky’s low cost of living is factored in, and fringe benefits like a day care facility, fitness centers, and lunches every day for $1, “it’s going to be a place you want to go to work,” vowed Mr. Bouchard.

“We don’t need anyone else telling us how to build that business.”

Mr. Leen emphasized that the primary reason why Kentucky and 27 other states have enacted Right to Work laws is to ensure that employees’ personal freedom to join or not join a labor union is protected.

“But good jobs are an important additional benefit,” Mr. Leen noted. “And the soon-to-be-built aluminum plant in Greenup County, Ky., is a compelling case in point.”

(Source: July 2017 National Right to Work Newsletter)