Unions challenge Hardin Co. right-to-work ordinance - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Unions challenge Hardin Co. right-to-work ordinance

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's a legal battle that could affect thousands of workers across Kentucky and a new ordinance passed by Hardin County is at the center of the dispute.

The Hardin Co. Fiscal Court passed a right-to-work ordinance last week by a vote of 8 to 1. It was then promptly hit with a lawsuit.

The right-to-work ordinance essentially means private companies in Hardin County cannot require workers to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.

“They have the right to work without having to join a union,” explained Brad Richardson, the CEO of the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce.

Richardson says the ordinance will make it easier for Hardin County to compete for new business.

“If you're not a right-to-work state, we're not going to locate a facility there. So, we're missing those opportunities,” he said.

Hardin is the fifth county to pass a right-to-work ordinance since December. Warren, Fulton, Simpson, and Todd counties are the others.

But now labor unions led by the Kentucky AFL-CIO have filed suit in federal court, arguing counties do not have legal authority to pass right-to-work laws.

“The federal National Labor Relations Act allows states to implement right to work laws, so called, but has given no authority whatsoever for the counties and cities to do likewise,” said Bill Londrigan, state president of the AFL-CIO.

The Republican State Senate has passed right-to-work bills, but they have not gotten past the Democratic House. Governor Beshear also opposes the idea.

“We don't have to apologize to anybody for where we are with our economy and how business-friendly we are,” said Beshear.

The Hardin County Judge Executive would not comment because of the pending suit, but supporters claim state law does give counties the power they need.

It appears the federal courts may have the final say.

“It's about lowering wages. It's about making sure unions don't have the wherewithal or the ability to adequately represent people and achieve good collective bargaining agreements,” said Londrigan.

But Richardson disagrees, arguing new business is good for everyone.

“We would rather see those companies come here, and be located here, whether they're union or non-union. It's not a union busting issue,” he said.

Supporters claim at least a dozen other counties are pursuing passage of their own right-to-work ordinances.

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