Here is information about a lawsuit filed recently by several labor unions against the Hardin County Fiscal Court, which recently became the fifth county in the country and commonwealth to pass a right-to-work ordinance. The Bluegrass Institute is collaborating with Protect My Check, Inc. to protect Kentucky workers and ignite our commonwealth’s economy.
January 15, 2015 (Elizabethtown, KY) — Today, the UAW, joined by several other national unions, filed a lawsuit against Hardin County, Kentucky challenging the County’s Right to Work ordinance, which was enacted earlier in the week. The Right to Work Ordinance protects employees of private companies in Hardin County from being fired simply for refusing to pay union dues.
Under the ordinance, current union contracts in Hardin County are unaffected until contract renewal, and public employees are not covered. The Hardin County Fiscal Court passed the measure on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by a vote of 8-1, joining Warren County, Fulton County, Simpson County and Todd County in enacting such a measure, with nearly unanimous, bi-partisan support across the state. There are now more than a quarter million Kentuckians protected by Right to Work laws, noted Protect My Check, Inc, a non-profit that is assisting counties who are passing the ordinances.
“We knew they would file a lawsuit,” said Judge Executive Mike Buchanon of Warren County, which was the first County in the country to pass the ordinance. “They yelled ‘see you on court’ when we passed it, and, as I understand it, at pretty much every other County that has enacted this ordinance. But none of us is going to let a union boss from Louisville or Frankfort come into our county and bully us out of creating more jobs in our counties. In fact, just this week the Kentucky County Judge-Executives Association Legislative Committee passed a resolution supporting our authority to enact these laws and there are 2 dozen more lined up to follow.”
When asked to comment on the Hardin County ordinance, Dave Adkisson, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce replied, “This ordinance allows certain counties in Kentucky to compete on a level playing field with our neighbors in Tennessee, Indiana and elsewhere for jobs that have been going to other states. I am convinced we are losing thousands of jobs each year because we are not designated Right to Work. Thanks to the leadership of these Judge Executives and their community leaders, I’ll be able to reach out to site selectors and make sure that we are at the top of even more of those lists. I hope to see more Counties follow suit.”
While the unions are quick to cite an Opinion Letter released by Attorney General Jack Conway as dispositive of the legal matter of County authority, Jason Nemes, lead counsel for Protect My Check in Kentucky, responded, “I’m not worried about that letter; it simply reflects the Attorney General’s personal opinion on the matter, which, as we all know, can sometimes be shaped by politics.” Mr. Nemes elaborated, “In support of our legal argument, we have a respected County Attorney, the former President of the Kentucky Bar Association, and two retired Justices of the Supreme Court – three Democrats and one Republican – who agree our ordinance rests on solid ground. Frankly, I’m looking forward to resolving the matter once and for all.”
Nemes further observed “The Attorney General did not even sign the opinion; he had a staff attorney do it, and as the Justices and County Attorney pointed out, he didn’t even cite the Kentucky Home Rule Statute, or address 50 years of federal court and US Supreme Court authority that support our position.”
Several other Kentucky counties are now joining in the fight. Several other counties have conducted or scheduled first readings of the same ordinance in recent days and more are scheduled to do so in the coming weeks.
Jason Nemes is of Counsel with Fultz Maddox Hovious & Dickens PLC in Louisville. Contact: (502) 992-5045.
Protect My Check, Inc. is a non-profit group that supports local legislators, workers and employers who seek to expand employee rights and create jobs by passing local right to work protections in the 25 states lacking statewide protections.