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UA video: 'We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines this election'

Berry Craig
01 Oct, 2016
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By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

The UA is out with an eight-minute video that ought to be shown in every union hall from Paducah to Pikeville before Nov. 8.

It features straight talk from UA members--active and retired--and from Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. Their message: If the Republicans flip the House on Nov. 8, unions lose all.

They’re not crying wolf. The wolf is at our door.  

The Democrats are clinging to a 53-47 majority. If the House goes Republican, “Kentucky’s prevailing wage law will be repealed and we will become a 'right to work' for less state before the month of January is out,” warns Matt Herron of Local 452 in Louisville.

The Republicans aren’t hiding their union-busting platform. They're proudly running on it.

I'm 66. I remember moderate Republicans—Sen. John Sherman Cooper comes to mind—who didn’t demonize us. They’re all but gone, as is the GOP of Lincoln and Liberty.

In Kentucky, the Great Emancipator's birthplace, the GOP is the union-despising tea party of Gov. Matt Bevin and Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton. Check out this little video about the my-way-or-else Bevin.

“What should scare every Plumber and Pipefitter even more is the fact that if anti-union politicians get control of the state House of Representatives, not only will they pass these anti-union measures, we will not be able to undo them for at least a generation—for decades, and that’s no exaggeration,” Herron says.

Every Kentuckian who packs a union card should be scared. If RTW comes and the prevailing wage goes, repeal of both will be mission impossible for a long time.

“Even if our friends of labor came back and won control of the state House in the next election, 2018, and wanted to undo or reverse these anti-union measures, they couldn’t because for any legislation to become law it must also pass the state Senate,” explains Shawn Drake of Local 502, also in the Falls City.

Adds Drake: “With the overwhelming majority of anti-union members controlling the state Senate, there is absolutely no chance of that ever happening in my lifetime.”

Indeed, the GOP has controlled the state senate for 16 years. The Republican majority has grown to 27-11. Not even the most optimistic of Democrats is talking about retaking the Senate in the foreseeable future.

Almost routinely, the Republican Senate passes a RTW law and a measure to repeal the prevailing wage.  Thus far, the anti-union bills have died in the Democratic House.

But a four seat swing is all it takes to turn Kentucky into Gov. Scott Walker’s RTW Wisconsin, Gov. Rick Snyder’s RTW Michigan or Gov. Mike RTW Pence’s Indiana. 

“We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines this election,” Drake pleads. “Control of the state House is at stake, and with it our union.”

Make that our whole union movement.  

Larry Sanderson, a retired UA international representative from Paducah, urges union members not to be divided. I took him to mean to beware of the GOP's old social issues sucker play.

“During this important election year, let us remind ourselves of all that unites us as brothers and sisters in the labor movement and recommit ourselves to the same common cause for which our founders risked their lives. And let us not forget the next generation of Plumbers and Pipefitters that are counting on us to preserve the same rights and freedoms that my generation and yours have enjoyed.”

Doc Gahafer, a retired Sprinkler Fitter, hammers home the point that state legislative elections—not presidential races—have the most direct effect on unions in Kentucky.

He says he's seen a procession of presidents, adding, “none have had any impact on whether Kentucky was an open shop or prevailing wage state. It’s our state local representative who makes that decision.

“So don’t lose focus of what’s important this November. Take the time to educate yourself about candidates running for state representative in your community. Find out who is a friend of labor and then do something to help that candidate get elected.”

UA International Rep. David L. Posey sums up that stakes for union in Kentucky “have never been higher. What you do between now and November eighth can make a difference. Talk to you co-workers, family, friends. Volunteer for the candidate in your local race for state representative who is a friend of labor, knocking on doors and making phone calls, and please go out and vote.”

“Your future and the hopes of organized labor everywhere are riding on your shoulders in the outcome of the state House races in Kentucky this fall.”