Kentucky Court Strikes Down Union’s ‘Desperate Attempt’ To Kill Right-To-Work Law

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

Kentucky’s Supreme Court struck down a union-backed challenge to the constitutionality of the state’s right-to-work law Thursday.

A state law banning employees from being forced to pay union dues as a condition for holding a certain job went into effect in Kentucky in January 2017. Kentucky branches of the AFL-CIO and Teamsters unions sued to overturn the law in May 2017. A circuit court judge upheld the law after the initial challenge, and the State Supreme Court upheld the ruling on appeal.

“The court rejected a desperate attempt by union bosses to re-impose their power to have a worker fired for refusing to pay dues or fees to a union they oppose,” National Right to Work Foundation (NRTW) President Mark Mix said in a statement. NRTW attorneys represented defendants in the case. (RELATED: The Supreme Court Just Handed Down Its Big Decision On Mandatory Union Dues)

The unions’ claims that the right-to-work legislation unfairly targeted unions and broke the principle of equal treatment under the law. The unions also claimed that because federal law requires unions to represent every worker in a workplace whether or not each agrees to be member, the union has a right to require each worker to pay some sort of compensation, according to court documents.

The court ruled against the unions, saying the law is general and already applied in numerous states. The court opinion also said that unions are not “compelled to seek designation as [an] exclusive representative” of a workplace, but unions “avidly” seek out the title because of the benefits it brings.

“The majority opinion flies in the face of the undisputed fact that this law singles out labor unions and their thousands of members for unfair and discriminatory treatment and violates unions’ rights to equal protection under of the Kentucky Constitution,” Bill Londrigan, President of Kentucky State AFL-CIO said in a statement. “This decision will further erode the wages and living standards of Kentucky’s working men and women which is the apparent purpose of the Act.”

Mark Janus is cheered by supporters outside of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Mark Janus is cheered by supporters outside of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

The Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision was based off a U.S. Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME, decided June 27, 2018. The decision banned mandatory dues requirements of all public-sector employees in the U.S.

Unions have suffered fallout from the ruling since. The ruling affected roughly 5 million dues-paying government employees. Hundreds of thousands are expected to fall off union roles after the decision’s full impact bore out.

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