By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
The Republicans who want Andy Beshear’s job have at least one thing in common: They all hate unions.
“Right to work”? They love it.
Prevailing wage repeal? Same.
Unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation? Makes workers lazy, they insist.
The state OSH program? The Republicans claim that employers who worship at the bottom line know better about workers’ safety and health than impartial government regulators.
“Elections have consequences,” Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan often says.
Kentucky history, the subject I taught in a community college for two dozen years, bears him out.
For many years, Kentucky was the only non-RTW Southern state because pro-union Democrats commanded majorities in both houses of the state legislature and held the governorship. Republican governors who pushed for RTW got nowhere because the Democrats ruled the House and Senate roosts.
But in 2000, Republicans gained control of the Senate. The Democratic House remained a firewall against RTW, PW repeal and other Republican anti-union measures until 2016, when the GOP wrested the House majority from Democrats.
In 2015, Republican Matt Bevin was elected governor after campaigning for a RTW law and for a measure to abolish PW.
In 2017, egged on by Bevin, the Republican legislature quickly passed RTW and repealed PW.
Two years later, Beshear, a Democrat, won the governorship. Beshear is pro-union. He favors repeal of the RTW law and reinstatement of PW. He supports meaningful UI, workers’ comp, and OSH programs.
He has used executive orders to try to stem the anti-union tide in the legislature. But RTW will remain on the books, and PW will still be off the books until both the House and Senate are Democratic again. Realistically, that change will come only after more than a few election cycles.
Meanwhile, it behooves us all to help Governor Beshear by volunteering and voting for our State AFL-CIO-endorsed candidates for the legislature on Nov. 8.
“Vote like your job and union depend on it, because they do.” Like “Elections have consequences,” we’ve all heard it. But if you pack a union card, no statements should ring truer.