Americans for Prosperity announced Tuesday plans to contribute $50,000 to help a first-of-its-kind right-to-work movement in Kentucky as it faces legal opposition from unions.
It started back in December, when Warren County in Kentucky voted to adopt a right-to-work ordinance, making it the first in the country. The policy, which has passed in 25 states, has traditionally been seen as a purely state or federal issue. Libertarian activist group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has state chapters across the country to promote individual rights and issues like right-to-work.
Julia Crigler, state director of AFP Kentucky, argues the county movement will help strengthen worker rights.
“Our chapter has committed significant resources to ensure that Kentuckians have choice in the workplace,” Crigler said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We believe we should also support the local governments that are standing up for worker freedom and creating a more prosperous Kentucky by passing right-to-work ordinances.”
After Warren passed its own version of the law, several more counties, including Fulton, Hardin, Simpson and Todd, did as well. The group ProtectMyPayCheck has been leading the county effort. The movement has even gained support from Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, who is advocating for localities in his own state to adopt the policy.
“Kentucky Fiscal Courts are protecting the freedom of our families and ensuring that the bluegrass state is a place of opportunity for all, which makes us proud to support the work of ProtectMyPaycheck in defending their efforts,” Crigler added.
The idea, however, has faced legal challenges. According to the United Automobile Workers and the eight other unions that filed a lawsuit against Hardin county, the policy violates federal law under the National Labor Relations Act because only states can decide whether they want to enact such a policy.
“Americans for Prosperity has been instrumental in connecting Kentuckians to policymakers on the need for worker freedom,” Brent Yessin, executive director of ProtectMyPayCheck, said in a statement provided to TheDCNF. “Americans for Prosperity’s donation allows us to fight the unions’ attempt to roll back those freedoms, and jeopardize those jobs with their lawsuit.”
Jason Nemes, a lawyer representing Hardin County, argued in May that counties are within their rights to enact their own right-to-work laws because Kentucky has a “Home Rule” policy.
The Home Rule policy simply means the state government allows localities, such as cities and counties, to adopt their own economic development laws so long as it doesn’t interfere with existing state law. Additionally, he argues the National Labor Relations Act doesn’t forbid counties from adopting their own right-to-work laws for the same reason it doesn’t forbid states from doing so. He notes in Section 14b of of the act, it specifies not just states being allowed to do so but also territories.
A poll conducted by Echelon Insights in March found that a majority of state residents support right-to-work.
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