For The Oldham Era
Published: March 11, 2015
By RAE HODGE
Right to Work legislation may have failed in Kentucky’s state legislature but advocates of the measure are pushing for local level passage in Oldham and other counties across the state.
Just as vocal advocates of the bill were given opportunity to show their support during a previous meeting, voices opposing the measure got their chance to speak out at the Mar. 3 meeting of the Oldham County Fiscal Court.
Advocates are adamant that the ordinance is not anti-union. The measure, however, would allow non-union employees in unionized workplaces to skip paying dues to the union, although the unions would still be required to provide benefits like legal protection and health insurance negotiations.
Among the speakers, Bill Londrigan, the Kentucky President of AFL-CIO, presented his arguments to the court on behalf of unionized workers.
“That’s like saying you’re pro-motherhood, but being against mothers,” said Londrigan.
Londrigan cited recent studies demonstrating a marked difference between Right to Work and non- Right to Work states in the amount of average wages per worker, noting that employees in Right to Work states earn nearly $5,000 less per year than others.
AFL-CIO is currently also involved in a lawsuit againt Warren County, which passed the ordinance. AFL-CIO claims the passage is in violation of constitutional statutes and oversteps the county’s authority.
When asked by Oldham County Judge-Executive David Voegele whether Oldham’s passage of the law could be legal, Oldham County Attorney John Carter told the magistrates flatly, “The law’s against it.”
As previously reported in the Era, Oldham County doesn’t currently have any employers with unionized shops, but several members of unions live in Oldham County and commute to work.
Oldham could join a small number of other counties in passing the legislation at the county level, where proponents have focused thanks to repeated failures in passing a statewide law.
Voegele has previously said that he’s discussed the measure with Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger and spoken with Bullitt County Judge-Executive Melanie Roberts about also passing a similar ordinance.
Though Right to Work measures are unlikely to pass in the heavily Democratic Jefferson County, the state’s largest, it would be surrounded by a ring of counties with the ordinance if Bullett and Shelby counties pass it as well.
The Oldham County Fiscal Court meets on the first and third Tuesdays of every month on the second floor of La Grange’s City Hall. The Oldham County Fiscal Court is scheduled to vote on the Right to Work ordinance on Mar. 17.