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'Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame' might be coming to a union hall near you

Berry Craig
10 Nov, 2017
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AFT Local 1360

Unique United Steelworkers of America-made "Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame" banners are hitting the road in the Bluegrass State.

“We’ve now got another one you can take to as many union meetings as you want to,” Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan told delegates at the federation's recent biennial state convention in Lexington.

“We need to get the word out there to union halls and inform our members of who stands with us and who stands against us as we go into 2018. This is absolutely critical.”

The two banners show how Kentucky lawmakers voted last January on "right to work," prevailing wage repeal and a paycheck deception measure.

The GOP-majority legislature quickly approved all three union-busting bills, though unions were able to soften the paycheck deception legislation. Printed on both banners are the names of all 38 state senators and 100 state representatives and how they voted.

Before the legislature adjourned, Billy Thompson, USW District 8 director, got the idea for a "Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame" banner. He had the second one ready for the convention.

He's ready to loan banners to members of any union who are "willing to accept responsibility for returning them to the district office. We are delighted to assist with the display around the state."

Thompson said District 8 is going to order two more loaner banners. Londrigan said if the banners aren't "a road map going into 2018, I don’t know what is.”

Every Democratic senator and representative voted against the legislation, except one House member who voted for PW repeal. A few Republicans sided with the Democrats on the three measures.

Legislators who turned thumbs down on the bills are on the “Wall of Fame” side of the banners. Backers are on the “Wall of Shame.”  

After the Republicans flipped the Senate in 2000, the Democratic House became organized labor’s last firewall in Frankfort, the state capital. (The legislature can override a governor's veto with a simple majority.) 

Last November’s Trump tsunami turned a 53-47 Democratic House majority to a 64-36 Republican bulge. The GOP kept its 27-11 Senate edge.

When the Democrats held the lower chamber, Senate approved anti-union legislation died in House committees. “Therefore, there were very few people actually voting on 'right to work,' repealing prevailing wage and other anti-union bills,” Londrigan said.

As a result, he added, “we weren’t able to get every one of them on the record. So they could strut around a little bit and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m against right to work.’ They didn’t have to vote on it. But guess what, they all voted on it now.”

Delegate Rick Lewis, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 181 district representative, stepped forward at the convention to carry a rolled up banner to his union meeting. Londrigan expects more takers.

“We’ve got the data here now,” he said. “We’ve got a road map in front of us.”

Union officials in other states interested in making similar "maps" may call Thompson for more information about the banners. His office phone number is 502-875-3332.