Kentucky Unions Appeal After Court Says They Don’t Have A Right To Workers Wages

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

Kentucky unions filed an appeal Tuesday of a district court’s decision to throw out a case against the state’s right-to-work laws, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

Kentucky branches of the Teamsters union and the AFL-CIO, the largest union organization in the U.S., want to overturn Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate’s ruling on their challenge to Kentucky’s right-to-work laws. Wingate ruled against the unions’ original claim that laws excluding union fees as a condition of employment violate the unions’ right to private property.

Federal law requires that in a situation where a union possesses exclusive representation rights to a workplace, the union must advocate for and cover all employees, not just the union’s members. The unions argued that state right-to-work laws are discriminatory because federal law treats unions differently than other service industries, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

“Unions have long known that the privilege of exclusive representation comes with the obligation of exclusively representing all members of an organization,” Wingate’s ruling says, according to the Free Beacon. “Any lost payment of compulsory dues is not a taking because future union dues and fees do not constitute a vested property interest with which the government is interfering.”

“Kentucky’s limitation of employees from whom unions collect dues is not a taking of union property but rather is a prevention of Kentucky employees paying compulsory union dues,” Wingate added, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

AFL-CIO Kentucky chapter president Bill Londrigan criticized the ruling and said right-to-work laws are detrimental to workers and the economy.

“The Circuit Court failed to consider the undisputed testimony of nationally recognized experts in labor economics who uniformly proved that [right-to-work] laws lower wages, hurt workers and fail to add new jobs,” Londrigan said in a statement. “Instead these laws serve to increase profits and weaken the strongest voice workers have to speak on their behalf.”

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