It's not a silver bullet, but official says Kentucky's new right - WDRB 41 Louisville News

It's not a silver bullet, but official says Kentucky's new right-to-work law will help attract business

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Brad Richardson, president and CEO, Hardin Co. Chamber of Commerce Brad Richardson, president and CEO, Hardin Co. Chamber of Commerce

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky is now the nation's 27th right-to-work state, and despite the controversy surrounding the law’s passage, it means communities have new tool as they try to grow new jobs.

Officials in Hardin County say they're already at work trying to attract business armed with the new law.

At 3.7 percent, the unemployment rate in Hardin County is below the state average, but officials predict right to work will create even more jobs.

“Companies that are doing a sight search that have right to work as a requirement for one of their sight locations, if you're not on that list, you don't get a look,” said Brad Richardson, president and CEO of the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce.

Richardson has been fighting for right to work for decades. He's convinced the county has lost business without it.

“Elizabethtown was a finalist for a Hyundai plant, which is now employing, I think, between 4,000 and 5,000 people in Alabama, a right to work state, and it was one of the factors in their decision-making,” Richardson said.

Right to work means workers cannot be required to join a labor union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. Opponents who protested as the General Assembly passed the law say it will weaken unions and drive down wages.

“Your wages will be reduced. You won't have any bargaining power. You won't have a voice,” said Dana Crittendon, president of IUE-CWA Local 83761.

But Richardson believes more business means more competition for skilled workers and potentially competitive wages.

“It's not a silver bullet. It's not the answer to everything, as it relates to creating new jobs in the state of Kentucky," he said. "But, again, in sales, you're going to have objections. And when you can overcome that objection, you've obviously got a better shot at landing a prospect."

Hardin was one of 12 Kentucky counties that passed their own right-to-work laws over the past two years. Hardin County's law was struck down by a federal district judge but later reinstated by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Richardson believes the state law now makes the local ordinance unnecessary. 

Kentucky's new law is already drawing national attention in at least one way. The National Right to Work Foundation is offering free legal services for any worker facing resistance for not paying union dues.

Here is the full statement released by the foundation:

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced today the creation of a special task force to defend and enforce Kentucky’s newly-passed Right to Work law. Foundation staff attorneys will offer free legal advice and aid to Bluegrass State workers seeking to exercise their rights to refrain from union membership and union dues payment, guaranteed by the Right to Work law.

On Saturday January 7, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed into law Right to Work legislation, thereby making Kentucky the nation’s newest and 27th Right to Work state.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has a long history of assisting employees seeking to exercise their Right to Work rights, most recently under Right to Work provisions enacted in West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Michigan. 

Foundation staff attorneys are prepared to defend the Kentucky Right to Work law from any spurious legal challenges brought by union officials. Big Labor, unwilling to give up their forced-dues powers, routinely challenges Right to Work laws in courts despite the fact that Right to Work laws have repeatedly been upheld.

Unfortunately, union officials also often try to stymie independent-minded workers who seek to exercise their rights under Right to Work laws.  Any Kentucky worker who has questions about his or her rights, or encounters any resistance or abuse while trying to exercise his or her workplace rights, is encouraged to contact Foundation staff attorneys for free legal aid.

“It’s not enough to enact Right to Work protections; they must be vigorously defended and enforced,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation.  Union bosses will go to great lengths to keep workers in their forced-dues grasp.  The National Right to Work Foundation will fight to make sure that every Kentuckian’s Right to Work is protected, because no worker should ever be forced to pay union dues or fees just to get or keep a job.”          

Staff attorneys are preparing a special legal notice to be released in the coming days to inform all Kentucky workers of their new workplace rights. In addition to its Kentucky task force, the Foundation is also currently active in defending state Right to Work laws in Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Idaho against union lawsuits.

Affected employees are encouraged to call the Foundation’s legal hotline toll-free at 1-800-336-3600 or contact the Foundation online at to request free legal assistance or to learn more about their new rights.

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