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.

Right-to-work: Counties need not wait for a legal ‘resolution’

Right-to-Work logoWhile 12 Kentucky counties have passed American’s first local right-to-work ordinances, only one – Hardin County, which passed legislation in January allowing employees to say “no” to paying union dues without losing their jobs – has been the subject of a lawsuit by labor unions.

Some county magistrates who supported first readings of local right-to-work ordinances have been subjected to verbal intimidation by labor-union bosses and, as a result, are considering waiting until the lawsuit against Hardin is resolved before moving forward.

However, there are good reasons for counties to dismiss the union hype and move forward now on right-to-work ordinances:

  • The reason only one right-to-work county is facing a lawsuit is that labor unions have the venue they sought in a federal courtroom in Louisville. Unions have little interest or incentive in filing elsewhere as they clearly lack standing in many counties and do not believe they have much chance for legal success.
  • Judge-executives and fiscal-court magistrates in counties with no private unionized employers need not even worry about legal action as labor unions cannot get standing to file a lawsuit in counties where they lack a presence.
  • Even in counties with unionized employers in the private sector, unions can get standing only if the contract is up for renewal in 2015. Even then, if a union contract is up for renewal between July 2015 and December 2015, the union involved “would have a tough time showing it was affected by an ordinance, since it isn’t even in negotiations for a new contract until after the Hardin case is decided,” (likely sometime in June), said legal expert Brent Yessin with national nonprofit Protect My Check.
  • Companies looking to expand or relocate are not waiting to express an interest in coming to Kentucky until the lawsuit is resolved. Why should Kentucky’s local leaders? Employers already are contacting counties that have passed right-to-work ordinances, making it obvious they don’t believe much in either the unions’ propaganda or chances for courtroom success.
  • More than 30 companies have shown interest in projects – representing 3,000-plus jobs and $300,000 in capital investment – in Warren County since that southcentral Kentucky county’s fiscal court passed the nation’s first local right-to-work ordinance on Dec. 19.
  • Unlike Warren County, there are no private-sector union employers in Rockcastle County. So by passing its own right-to-work ordinance, Rockcastle County, led by Judge-Executive Doug Bishop, can now be placed on companies’ site-selection lists without facing a union lawsuit as no unions have standing in that county. Rockcastle County will have a head start on counties that buy into the union hype or legal fear mongering.
  • Despite their lack of standing and chances of success in court, unions continue to try and intimidate local leaders from moving ahead by showing up at fiscal-court meetings and publicly chastising magistrates for moving forward and “wasting taxpayers’ money on an unnecessary legal battle” or some such nonsense. Again, unions don’t even have legal standing in most counties, which renders moot most of their legal threats.
  • Even if a union did file suit against another county, the fees will not be paid for by taxpayers but by Protect My Check, a national non-profit organization which is raising the funds to cover such costs and has already has agreements with several counties that have moved ahead with right-to-work ordinances. The Kentucky Association of Counties (KACO) is – as it should be – covering the legal fees for Hardin County.
  • Union bosses have promised county leaders that we won’t hear nary a peep from them again if they lose the Hardin County case. Believing this claim would require a complete suspension of reality as the unions never accept right-to-work without very contentious fights.

Unions, in fact, just lost (as they usually do in these cases) after challenging Indiana’s right-to-work law – passed in 2012 – all the way to the Hoosier State’s Supreme Court. If they were that determined with statewide right-to-work legislation – which has passed in 25 states – how much more determined will they be to stop an innovative and new idea such as local ordinances? (Note: the unions lost the Indiana Supreme Court decision, as they usually do when challenging right-to-work laws.)

If the labor unions lose the Louisville decision, which likely will be released in June, don’t think that they will not be right back in July in an attempt to intimidate more Kentucky county-court magistrates and judge-executives from moving forward with right-to-work policies … and the economic-development opportunities they already are proving to offer in Kentucky counties.

Keep updated here on Kentucky’s local right-to-work campaign.

Bluegrass Beacon – Right-to-work pushback: ‘Tired old dog that won’t hunt’

BluegrassBeaconLogo When I get an email that begins with “I was just lucky enough to read your column” and ends with “PROUD UNION MEMBER,” there’s a good chance that what’s in between will offer little evidence that the writer actually felt fortunate to have read the column.

That’s especially true for labor fat cats who feel threatened when policies are introduced that would require them to compete for members and dues by persuading – rather than cajoling or coercing – individuals to surrender up to 2 percent of their hard-earned paychecks.

Right-to-Work logo

If union membership works for you, I strongly encourage you: join and faithfully pay your dues. All I ask is that you don’t deny others their choice, and don’t belittle them if they see life through a different lens.

Also, please use facts and common sense instead of emotion and union rhetoric when stating your views.

If you do that, we can have a reasonable and fruitful debate.

But it’s arduous to even try and have a sensible and evenhanded forum with an emailer who snidely remarks that since I believe in liberty then I must believe that people “shouldn’t be forced to have to pay monthly dues/fees to get a country club membership,” or that a person “shouldn’t be forced to have to pay monthly payments to get – or keep” a house, new car, boat or membership.

Please. No one coerces me into buying a house, car, boat or membership. I choose to make those purchases. However, without a right-to-work law, the union forces employees at unionized operations to pay dues whether they want their services or not.

Another “dog that won’t hunt” (to use a phrase our “PROUD UNION MEMBER” in Hoosierland probably doesn’t understand, but we Kentuckians surely do) is his claim that right-to-work promotes “FREELOADING” by workers who receive benefits of union representation without paying dues.

Fortunately, that dog didn’t even whimper at a recent meeting of the Warren County Fiscal Court in Bowling Green, during which magistrates voted 6-1 to become America’s first right-to-work county. The court with its vote showed courage, poise and a great desire to attract new companies and jobs to their community.

They understand that the “freeloading” issue exists because labor unions choose to have it that way.

When a union organizes at a Kentucky workplace, it decides whether to be the “exclusive “or “members only” representative.

If unions apply to represent only those who become members and pay dues, they are not the exclusive representative, which allows other unions to come to their plant and compete for members and dues.

So unions almost always choose to seek to become exclusive representatives, thus denying individuals who might prefer a different union – or no representation at all – a choice. As a result, unions must provide exclusive representation, which, in right-to-work states, means that some non-union members may reap some benefits.

But just like I pay for that house, car, boat and membership only if I choose to, unions are exclusive representatives only because they pick that path.

This freeloading argument was used by opponents who challenged Indiana’s right-to-work law, which passed in 2012 – and which the Hoosier State has used to leave Kentucky behind in the economic-development dust.

The Indiana Supreme Court rejected the argument, ruling that: “The Union’s federal obligation to represent all employees in a bargaining unit is optional; it occurs only when the union elects to be the exclusive bargaining agent, for which it is justly compensated by the right to bargain exclusively with the employer.”

Louisville attorney and right-to-work advocate Jason Nemes calls the freeloading argument a “tired old dog that won’t hunt; in fact, this dog never did hunt.”

Soon we won’t even be able to find that dog.

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at Read previously published columns at