Federal appeals court upholds Hardin County, Ky. right-to-work l - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Federal appeals court upholds Hardin County, Ky. right-to-work law

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Union workers at Jim Beam's distilleries walked out on the job in October 2016. Union workers at Jim Beam's distilleries walked out on the job in October 2016.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  A federal appeals court has ruled that Hardin County has the power to enforce a so-called “right to work” ordinance prohibiting employers from forcing workers to join or to financially support a union.

Hardin is one of 12 Kentucky counties that since late 2014 have passed local laws prohibiting compulsory union membership in workplaces, according to the Bluegrass Institute.

On Friday, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals partially reversed an earlier ruling by a U.S. District judge striking down Hardin County’s ordinance.

The decision may end up having little practical effect because Kentucky appears poised to become a right-to-work state next year after Republicans earned a supermajority in the House of Representatives during the Nov. 8 election.

The house had been the last Democrat-controlled legislative chamber in the South and a barrier to conservative policies like right-to-work.

Union leaders have said right-to-work laws allow “free riders” – or employees who enjoy the benefits of union-bargained pay and benefits without having to pay their “fair share” of the cost of representation – while federal law compels them to bargain on behalf of all workers in the unit. 

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