Anti-right-to-work zealots need a new act

BluegrassBeaconLogoEditor’s note: The Bluegrass Beacon column is a weekly syndicates statewide newspaper column posted on the Bluegrass Institute website after being released to and published by newspapers statewide.

Like comedian Kathy Griffin, who despicably held up a simulation of President Donald Trump’s head, leaders of the anti-right-to-work movement desperately need new material.

In fact, they need a brand-new act.

Following are some direct questions that should cause them to see the futility of a lawsuit they have filed opposing Kentucky’s new and effective right-to-work law:    

  • You claim the legal action is all about helping workers harmed by right-to-work. Can you name one single worker injured by this law?

If so, why isn’t their name on the lawsuit, instead of AFL-CIO chief Bill Londrigan and Teamsters 89 boss Fred Zuckerman?

How do these union heads even have standing, considering their claim is built on the premise that Kentucky’s right-to-work law harms workers?

Could they not get even one union dues-paying employee to step up and sign on the proverbial dotted line to take on this state’s governor and Labor Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey instead of the general “affiliated unions and their members?”

Could it be that Gov. Matt Bevin was spot-on when he suggested, in his response to the lawsuit’s filing, that union bosses use these types of doomed-to-fail legal actions to “get re-elected to a job where you’re paid well?”

  • Why would you file a lawsuit to try and stop the growth in economic momentum that right-to-work is bringing to Kentucky?

Try as they may, it’s impossible for the plaintiffs and their political pals to deny this clear claim from Braidy Industries CEO Craig Bouchard, who, at the ribbon-cutting celebrating arguably the largest industry announcement in Appalachia’s history, stated: “If Kentucky was not a right-to-work state, you wouldn’t have gotten on the list because it’s so important to us.”

Attempting to unravel a policy that will help create 550 jobs paying blue-collar workers $70,000 annually confirms this lawsuit isn’t about protecting workers.

Rather, it’s about forcing the 99 percent to indulge the 1 percent at the top, where union bosses who engineer this type of senseless opposition perch and, with knee-jerking consistency, condemn labor-freedom policies like right-to-work, which simply allow individuals to forego union membership or payment of dues without losing their jobs.

  • Since federal labor law allows states to pass right-to-work policies, why are you wasting your remaining members’ dues on a frivolous lawsuit doomed to fail?

Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, charges the lawsuit is “an embarrassment” and makes claims that are “outlandish and similar to those rejected all over the country,” including by the Indiana Supreme Court after the Hoosier State passed its right-to-work law in 2012.

Perhaps these anti-right-to-work zealots believe they will get a favorable ruling just because they filed their inane litigation in a county overwhelmingly Democratic in registration and politics.

In pushing for the Kentucky Supreme Court to hear the case posthaste, they also have deluded themselves into believing a law passed by the duly-elected legislature will be overturned simply because most of the justices are registered Democrats with some ideological ax to grind.

But this isn’t a partisan issue, as indicated by many votes from both Democrat and Republican magistrates who supported local right-to-work ordinances in several counties before the statewide law passed in January.

To rule for the unions and upend Kentucky’s right-to-work law, the Supreme Court would have to totally invalidate the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause mandating that federal law preempts state policy.

It would “require a judge to dishonor their robe, and they’re not going to do that,” said Nemes, who previously served as chief of staff and counsel for retired Chief Justice Joseph Lambert.

Bevin has filed a motion to dismiss the legal challenge.

However, even if the courts don’t grant his request, this lawsuit will result in another devastating legal loss for labor-union bosses and a correspondingly large victory for job seekers, economic progress and individual liberty.

Jim Waters is president and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Read previous columns at He can be reached at and @bipps on Twitter.

Bluegrass Beacon: Detractors wrong about right-to-work

BluegrassBeaconLogoOriginators of the “Right to Work: Wrong for Kentucky” sign that has adorned a billboard alongside Louisville’s Watterson Expressway will have a harder time making that case now than even just a few months ago.

Since lawmakers passed right-to-work on the first Saturday of 2017 – itself a historic event – history being made is becoming a frequent accomplishment when it comes to announcements of new investment in the Bluegrass State.

First, before right-to-work had even been on the books for a month, Amazon shook the entire retail industry’s center of gravity by deciding to place its $1.5 billion worldwide cargo hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

The project will bring 3,000 jobs to the commonwealth and is the largest single business deal ever executed in Northern Kentucky, a distinction previously held by Delta Air Lines’ investment in 1993, which would represent $630 million in today’s dollars.

Then, Toyota announced less than two weeks later that it would make its largest-ever investment at the Georgetown plant – where 8,200 employees already thrive – by devoting more than $1.3 billion toward replacing and repairing equipment and upgrading technology.

While no new jobs were included in Toyota’s announcement, this upgrade is taking place at a plant where, according to the Kentucky Economic Development Authority as reported by WDRB News, workers make more than $45 an hour, which adds up to more than $93,000 annually – and that’s without including any overtime pay.

It’s all part of Toyota’s plan to spend $10 billion at its American plants by 2022.

Can anyone say: “Make Kentucky’s economy great again?”

But the commonwealth’s brand new right-to-work law also is making history even in eastern Kentucky.

Braidy Industries CEO Craig Bouchard announced toward the end of April that his company would build a $1.3 billion aluminum mill in Greenup County’s South Shore that will employ 550 employees and pay them $70,000 annually.

Also, the first phase of the project, which will begin in early 2018, will result in the hiring of 1,000 construction workers.

How much does right-to-work have to do with this historic announcement?

“If Kentucky was not a right-to-work state, you wouldn’t have gotten on the list because it’s so important to us,” Bouchard said at an event announcing the new project, which will produce more than 300,000 tons of aluminum each year to serve automakers and the aerospace industry, which is a top exporter in the state.

The “list” included 24 other potential locations.

Still, despite Bouchard’s clear statement about how essential a right-to-work policy was in terms of deciding where to build this mill, which Gov. Matt Bevin said could wind up being “as significant as any economic deal ever made in the history of Kentucky,” ideological naysayers still try to deny its impact on the decision-making process.

In the end, House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, was forced to admit the Braidy announcement means a “tremendous” addition to Kentucky’s economy, even though he led the charge against right-to-work during the debate in the legislature on that cold, snowy first Saturday in January by fuming: “I will never cast a vote that I know will drive down the wages of the hard-working middle class.”

A $70,000 paycheck in northeast Kentucky doesn’t exactly sound like driving down wages to me.

Such potential should also provide some optimism for many across the political spectrum who wondered if there was any hope for replacing coal jobs – the only good positions found in many areas of the region for decades – lost to market forces and the Obama administration’s stifling regulations.

Manufacturers in the four months since Kentucky became a right-to-work state have made announcements historic to the northern, central and eastern part of the commonwealth that will result in more than $4 billion and create 3,550 direct jobs.

And that’s only three of the many more smaller announcements made just since right-to-work came to Kentucky.

Few policies were ever more right for Kentucky.

It’s time for that sign to come down.

Jim Waters is president and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Read previous columns at He can be reached at and @bipps on Twitter.

Quote of the day: So you think right-to-work doesn’t matter?

If Kentucky was not a right-to-work state, you wouldn’t have gotten on the list because it’s so important to us.” –Braidy Industries CEO Craig Bouchard