Senate passes bill making Kentucky 'right-to-work' state

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Senate on Saturday gave final approval to a bill letting union members in the state choose to pay dues while also getting union benefits.

The 'right-to-work' measure, House Bill 1, cleared the Senate on a 25-12 vote. It already had passed the Kentucky House and now moves to Gov. Matt Bevin's desk to be signed into law.

Union members and officials packed the state Capitol, chanting and marching during discussion and voting on House Bill 1 and other labor measures they say are meant to hurt unions and workers.

Business groups, including the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, had prioritized such bills for the 2017 General Assembly, arguing that they promote economic growth.

"I'm very pleased," Kentucky chamber president and CEO Dave Adkisson said after the Senate vote. "This put a sign on the front door of Kentucky that we're open for business."

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued the following statement concerning the bill's passage:

"Congratulations to the Kentucky General Assembly, led by Senate President Robert Stivers and Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover, on passage of legislation to make Kentucky a right-to-work state. This is a great day for Kentucky workers who will no longer be forced to pay dues to be members of unions if they fail to represent their best interests. The Kentucky voters have spoken, and Big Labor bosses should know that the new Republican majority in Frankfort is determined to use their mandate to fight for Kentucky workers, Kentucky jobs, and a stronger Middle Class.

“Right-to-Work is a smart way to get America on the path to real recovery, and it’s critical to empowering workers and giving them more freedom to keep more of their hard-earned dollars to spend as they choose. This is why I have continually supported legislation at the federal level to enact right-to-work nationwide. The passage of this state law will boost economic development and help put Kentucky on a level playing field with neighboring right-to-work states when it comes to competing for and attracting new businesses to create more jobs."

Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Committee, released the following statement:

"This is a great day for the hardworking men and women of the Bluegrass State as the House and Senate have now passed the Kentucky Right to Work Bill.

Thanks are due especially to Governor Bevin, Speaker Hoover, Chairman DeCesare, Senate President Stivers, Majority Leader Thayer, Chairman Bowen and the thousands of National Right to Work Committee members and identified supporters across Kentucky who’ve, again and again, contacted their legislators.

This is the culmination of a long, hard-fought battle to end compulsory unionism in the Bluegrass State and make Kentucky America’s 27th Right to Work state.

After a years-long struggle involving tens of thousands of mobilized Kentuckians, citizens of the Bluegrass State will finally be able to enjoy all the benefits of a Right to Work law.

The Kentucky Right to Work law will free tens of thousands of Kentucky workers who have been forced to pay tribute to a union boss just for the privilege of getting and keeping a job so they can provide for their families. The law will also provide a much needed economic boost for Kentucky.

As legislators in states like New Hampshire and Missouri eye passing Right to Work laws for their states, I would encourage them to follow Kentucky’s lead.

Right to Work laws simply restore the ability of workers to decide for themselves whether union membership is right for them, reaffirming the right of every worker to voluntarily join a union and protecting each individuals’ right to be employed without being forced to join or pay dues or fees to a union boss for the privilege.

With the benefits to personal liberty and economic prosperity that go along with Right to Work, and numerous studies demonstrating broad support for Right to Work among voters in state after state, including Missouri and New Hampshire, the issue is unlikely to go away in state capitols until politicians put an end to Big Labor’s coercive forced unionism privileges once and for all. And as recent history demonstrates, politicians will either realize that or pay a price at the polls."

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