Beshear pledges to file bills to repeal RTW and restore PW 'every year that I'm governor'

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Attorney Gen. Andy Beshear promised a group of western Kentucky union members today that when he's the state's chief executive "you will be welcome back into your government and not have the doors closed on you and not have to stand outside."

The Democratic gubernatorial hopeful huddled with about 20 union officers and rank-and-file members today at the Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council hall in Paducah.

His running mate, educator Jaqueline Coleman of Harrodsburg, accompanied him but didn't address the crowd.

"Just look at how much we’ve lost," said Beshear, who is wrapping up his second term. "We have repeal of the prevailing wage and you’ve seen what that’s done to our families. We have 'right to work' passed and you’ve seen what that’s done to our families."

He said that under Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, the labor cabinet--which he wants the GOP-majority legislature to merge with the public protection cabinet--"no longer operates in good faith."

The candidate added that the cabinet "never fines anyone and hasn’t investigated one fatality since [Bevin has] been governor. We no longer have an OSHA board. We no longer have skilled trade boards."

He said union members "no longer have anybody looking out for you" in the executive branch.

Beshear also pledged that with him "you will get a governor that works for working families every day. Every year that I am governor, we will file a bill to restore prevailing wage and I will fight like heck every year to get it passed. Every year I am governor, we will file a bill to repeal 'right to work' and we will fight like heck to get it passed.

He promised "not only to restore the labor cabinet and make it do its job," but also to name a "card-carrying [union] member" as labor secretary.

"We will restore the OSHA board and all the trade boards, and we will have union folks on them," Beshear said.

The son of Steve Beshear, the last Democratic governor, the attorney general is one of three Democratic contenders for governor running in the May 21 primary. The others are House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, and former state auditor Adam Edelen of Lexington, and perennial candidate Geoff Young, also of Lexington.

Adkins, Beshear and Edelen oppose RTW and support the prevailing wage. They favor a free standing labor cabinet and promise to make a union member their labor secretary.

Bevin, whom unions say is one of the most anti-labor governors in Kentucky history, faces a trio of GOP primary foes.