Kentucky State AFL-CIO

Londrigan: Judge's ruling against county RTW ordinance a victory for Kentucky's working families

Bill Londrigan

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Federal District Judge David Hale’s decision striking down Hardin County's “right to work” ordinances was a victory for Kentucky’s working families, says Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO.

“These illegal ordinances would have affected all working people, union and non-union, by decreasing wages, lowering median household incomes, increasing poverty and undermining workplace safety," he added. 

In short, these ordinances are wrong,” he added. “The courts rejected out-of-state special interests’ attempt to take over local governments by pushing a radical outside agenda.”

In January, 2015, nine unions filed suit against Hardin County’s RTW ordinance, arguing that federal labor law permits only states and territories to pass RTW laws. Eleven other counties approved similar ordinances and Hale's ruling, in effect, invalidates them, too. 

Both sides stated their cases before Hale in Louisville in August, 2015. He ruled in favor of the unions on Feb. 3.

“We would like to thank all of the working families and elected officials that fought hard against these illegal ordinances,” Londrigan said. “The Kentucky AFL-CIO and hardworking Kentuckians will continue to fight for fair wages, more good jobs and more investment in education – and fight hard against unfair, illegal and unnecessary legislation.

“It is unfortunate that out-of-state special interests wasted taxpayers’ money with these attacks on Kentucky workers by pushing a radical out-of-state agenda. Our mission is to improve the lives of all working Kentuckians and raise the standard of living for all Kentuckians. We salute the working people of Hardin County for taking a stand against out-of-state corporate interests.”

The pro-RTW Americans for Prosperity Kentucky contributed a $50,000 grant to a legal defense fund for counties that faced legal action for passing RTW ordinances, according to Kevin Wheatley of cn/2 Pure Politics.

Buddy Cutler of Louisville, attorney for the unions, said Hale’s opinion was solid, well-reasoned and followed established law. “It is a victory for working people that honors Congress’ intent and implements the wise federal labor policy that companies and unions should be free to negotiate contracts without undue interference from local officials.”

Buddy Cutler

Hale said the National Labor Relations Act "preempts the right-to-work, hiring-hall, and dues-checkoff provisions of Hardin County Ordinance 300.” He also ruled that "Section 14(b) is the only exception to NLRA preemption of the field of labor relations, and it does not extend to counties or municipalities. Because Ordinance 300 does not fall under § 14(b)’s narrow exception, sections 4, 5, and 6 of the ordinance are preempted and thus invalid.”

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