Employment Law Report
Unions Challenge Kentucky’s Right-to-Work Law
Organized labor is attempting to fight back against Kentucky’s new right-to-work law. Yesterday, the Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Teamsters Local 89 filed a lawsuit asking a judge to block the law’s enforcement. The law, enacted in January 2017, bans labor unions from collecting mandatory dues from employees they represent in collective bargaining. Opponents of the law believe that it produces “free riders” in union workplaces — people who benefit from the presence of a union but do not contribute — and limits the bargaining power of the union.
The lawsuit, filed in Franklin Circuit Court, claims the law violates the Kentucky Constitution. It also claims that the law is discriminatory because it treats unions differently than other organizations that collect fees or dues to cover the costs of the benefits it provides. The Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Teamsters Local 89 ask the judge to temporarily block the law while the lawsuit proceeds. Governor Matt Bevin and Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey are named as Defendants.
Lawsuits challenging “right-to-work” laws in other states have received mixed decisions in the courts. The Seventh Circuit upheld Indiana’s law. And last year, the Sixth Circuit upheld city right-to-work ordinances in Kentucky. However, a circuit judge halted the implementation of West Virginia’s law in August 2016, and a Wisconsin court ruled that its right-to-work law was unconstitutional in April 2016.