(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s first and only free-market think tank, issued the following response to Attorney General Beshear’s decision to file a lawsuit trying to force the Bevin administration to withdraw subpoenas of teacher absence records after teacher “sick outs” forced several districts to close school during the recent session of the Kentucky General Assembly:
We want to commend the Bevin administration for supporting Kentucky law and not caving to the bullying and intimidation of the attorney general and the teachers’ union he’s seeking support from for his political campaign for governor.
The law clearly indicates that the actions taken by teachers – many of whom have been misled, misinformed and misguided – are illegal, whether they are labeled “wildcat strikes” or “work stoppages.”
Kentucky’s Labor Cabinet has a responsibility to enforce labor laws in the commonwealth – actions which, in the past, the attorney general and his fellow progressives have insisted upon. This includes fining construction employers for failing to pay union wage rates before the repeal of prevailing-wage mandates on public projects. Now, the same group that previously insisted upon enforcement is now taking legal action to keep officials from doing so.
It would be negligent, in fact, for Secretary Dickerson and the Labor Cabinet to refuse to enforce these laws, which are designed to protect taxpayers and citizens from massive strikes and crippling losses of public services.
If the attorney general is successful in his ill-advised and politically motivated attempt to prevent the Labor Cabinet from upholding the law regarding strikes by public employees, he opens the door to chaos and lawlessness.
Can Kentucky afford to have a multitude of police officers, firefighters and jail and prison guards call in sick so they can go down to Frankfort and throw a tantrum every time legislators discuss policies they don’t agree with?
The attorney general’s action – which goes way beyond his constitutionally mandated authority – isn’t about either First Amendment or equal rights. Rather, it’s an attempt to create special rights for a particular group of people that, if allowed to stand, will put the entire commonwealth at the mercy of public employees – something our founders did not intend.
After all, private employees cannot call in sick and then go to the Capitol and protest without risk of losing their jobs altogether. For that matter, we’re unaware of other public sector employees engaging in similar tactics, as well.
In this case, the maximum fine Frankfort could levy on teachers who falsely call in sick is $1,000, which is a significantly smaller penalty than the loss of jobs altogether that many in the private sector would face for similar actions.
Finally, the attorney general is pointing to legal action out of Detroit, Michigan, as precedent for his lawsuit in our commonwealth. Not only is Kentucky a different state with its own constitution and unique set of statutes, but Detroit is a bankrupt city – a situation we should be trying to avoid, not embrace.
We call on the attorney general to uphold the constitutionally mandated oath he took to not only support Kentucky’s Constitution but also to faithfully execute the duties of his office, “according to law.” After all, the attorney general’s job is to enforce the law, not to change it on his own to fit his personal political ideology or benefit his current gubernatorial campaign.
Contact Jim Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org, 859.444.5630 ext. 102 (office) or 270.320.4376 (cell).
The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s first and only free market think tank, has been offering commonsense ideas to solve the commonwealth’s greatest challenges since 2003. Find these solutions at www.bipps.org.