Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) and Republican leaders in the Legislature landed a gut punch to the state’s workers over the weekend with their approval of anti-worker measures that will reduce wages in the Bluegrass State under the false pretense of increasing job growth.
House Bill 1 will officially make Kentucky the 27th right-to-work state, undercutting the bargaining power of union workers. House Bill 3 repeals the state’s prevailing wage law that ensured workers on public projects received good pay and benefits. Republican lawmakers also passed ‘paycheck deception’ legislation (SB 6), making it more difficult for union members to pay dues to their labor organization.
“With three strokes of his pen, Gov. Bevin has gutted worker protections in the state of Kentucky,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “The governor and the state’s Republican state legislators are leading the state down a road to ruin by passing right-to-work. There is no disputing the facts – wages and benefits are significantly lower in right-to-work states than in free bargaining states while poverty rates are higher. Right-to-work laws only enrich corporations while working families are left behind.”
As supporters of such legislation often do, Bevin and his fellow GOP lawmakers are now promising the moon to residents of the state. But the truth is Kentucky was already succeeding when it came to job creation. U.S. Census Bureau data showed that the state was second when it came to job creation. So why mess with what’s working?
Unfortunately, that’s the easiest part to answer. Big business apologists like the billionaire industrialist Koch Brothers have made it their mission to stick their nose in the business of as many states as possible and fill the coffers of gullible elected officials who then push RTW through. They get to pay workers less, lawmakers get more money and everyday people get screwed.
Workers must remain steadfast in pushing back against such legislation elsewhere. There will be battles in the coming months. Fight like your paychecks depend on it – because they do!