KY Union Slams Newly Elected Republican Governor

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A prominent Kentucky union denounced newly elected Republican Gov. Matt Bevin on Wednesday over an executive order which could lead to state employees earning less.

Bevin has already moved to reverse several policy decisions enacted by former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. He issued five executive orders Dec. 22 impacting marriage licenses, minimum wages for state workers, state hiring practices, the rights of felons and to stop unilateral actions by state boards. His minimum wage order, however, has brought criticism from the Kentucky State AFL-CIO.

“It’s a step backwards,” Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan told the Courier-Journal. “Clearly Bevin’s agenda is not to uplift these workers but to turn back the clock.”

The order applies to executive branch agencies and state government vendors. It allows officials to disregard an earlier order by Beshear which raised the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour for those state workers. Bevin has argued his priority is the people of the state, not the government. Bevin is the first Republican governor in the state since 2007.

“I took action to uphold several commitments I made during my campaign so that we can implement real solutions that will help the people of Kentucky,” Bevin said in a statement. “As we move into the New Year and upcoming session, I look forward to working with legislators and stakeholders to build consensus and drive policy that makes a meaningful impact on the lives of all Kentuckians”

Compensation for state workers is likely only the beginning of a growing divide between Bevin and unions. Throughout his campaign he has advocated for policies unions fundamentally oppose, like right-to-work. The policy, which has passed in 25 states, outlaws mandatory union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Bevin looks likely to make the policy an early priority. Kentucky is a unique right-to-work battleground state for several reasons. While it has a statewide fight like the others, counties are also going ahead with their own measures. The policy has traditionally been a state issue. At the moment, 12 counties have enacted the policy while an additional four are close.

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