Elections have consequences

By BILL FINN

State Director

Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council

The Kentucky House and Senate convened on January 3, 2017 and in 5 days passed three anti-union Bills in an unprecedented manner. They were each signed by the Governor (above) under an Emergency Clause and went into effect on January 9, 2017.

Legislators supporting Labor had a total of 30 minutes on the Floor to oppose each measure that benefited KY workers for over 70 years. Ten to fifteen minutes is the allotment we were allowed for testimony in Committee Hearings to stop these attacks on labor and the members we represent.

Last week, an average of 12 hours’ notice was provided between the times of these anti-union Bill postings for labor to testify in opposition. The Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity had much more advanced notice as they held meetings in the committee room and stayed in the room with doors shut to occupy every seat while Kentucky workers were shut out of the room. This is the picture of Democracy with the new Republican majority in Frankfort.

The KY Chamber and Americans for Prosperity testified that any appearance of labor’s strength drives companies from considering KY as a place to do business. As in past years, no examples are ever cited. The majority party agreed, and these Bills sailed through Committee’s to the House and Senate Floors.

Legislators from both Chambers in favor of these anti-union Bills had one thing in common at every Committee Hearing and Floor speech. They all start out like this: “I’m not anti-union, however…”

With one lone exception, every Democrat voted with Labor to oppose these Bills. A handful of Republicans voted with us to support the working families of their Districts. Labor’s interest in public policy go way beyond our own self-interest.  Our goal to achieve and maintain a middle-class for all Kentuckians suffered a devastating blow last week.

I have spoken with many active and retired union members who voted for Republican Legislators or the straight Republican ticket. Elections have consequences and we’re experiencing that now. No one will be immune from these policies that attack labor. Working members help fund retiree health care and pensions and as man-hours decrease so will the funding.

Funding the training of the next generation of construction workers has always been an unselfish investment union members chose to make to pay it forward. Sons and daughters follow their fathers in our industry like no other. Thankfully, kicking the ladder out was never the option those before us chose, once they reached their goals. Many a Floor speech in Frankfort started out with personal family stories about the value of union’s, right before they voted against them.

The final passage of the anti-labor bills and the voting records are listed below. Remember these voting records in the elections of 2018.

House Bill -1, the Kentucky Right to Work Act http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/17RS/HB1/orig_bill.pdf

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/17RS/HB1/vote_history.pdf

House Bill -3, Repeal of Prevailing Wage http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/17RS/HB3/orig_bill.pdf

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/17RS/HB3/vote_history.pdf

Senate Bill – 6, Paycheck Protection http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/17RS/SB6/orig_bill.pdf

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/17RS/SB6/vote_history.pdf