Kentucky Labor Institute
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    Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
    Did you know...that the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, first printed in 1903, is the oldest peer-reviewed publication dedicated to Kentucky history?Subscribe to the Register (only $40 per year).
    Action Center
    Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
    Did you know...that the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, first printed in 1903, is the oldest peer-reviewed publication dedicated to Kentucky history?Subscribe to the Register (only $40 per year).
  • Rand Paul, Local Government, and "Right to Work" Ordinances
    Posted On: Jul 22, 2015

                        Rand Paul, Local Government Control, and "right to work" Ordinances

                                                         Joe Brennan

    It has been reported that the Warren County Fiscal Court recently gave preliminary approval for a county "right to work" (for less) ordinance. Such action immediately received the support of the county's "leading" citizen - Senator Rand Paul. Notice of such moves were recently projected in a Courier-Journal op. ed. written by Scott Jennings, local celebrity and avid coworker with major Republican candidates: George W. Bush, Mitch McConnell, and a former member of Karl Rove's political enterprises. The op. ed. stated that according to Kentucky Law actions, termed "home rule", would permit the enactment of "right to work" provisions on local county levels. Under the assumption of the "regulation of commerce for the protection and convenience of the public", such local regulatory ordinances would be within the powers of county officials to exercise their rights to "home rule". At first glance these procedures appear to be "States Rights" enacted on the local level. If constitutional, and they are not, what would be the extent of such "home rule"? Would it be the reintroduction of local voter rights regulations, the rebirth of Jim Crow, only time will tell.

    As expected, Rand Paul welcomed Warren County's "right to work" measures as a means to free the workers from the "oppression of unions" and their involvement in the work place. Recent visiting Australian labor leaders discussed how their country rejected their equivalent of "right to work", replacing it with progressive legislation entitled "The Rights of Workers". This is the emphasis that needs to be adopted by Kentucky workers. Why? Because without union representation the individual worker is an army of one confronting the powers of the employer, the corporation, the investor. This condition has proven to be disastrous.

    An article written by Gordon Lafer, the Economic Policy Institute 10-31-13, clearly gives reasons why we need unions. "In 2011 and 2012, state legislatures undertook numerous efforts to undermine wages and labor standards: states passed laws stripping workers of overtime rights, repealed or restricted rights to sick leave, undermined workplace safety protection, and made it harder for workers to recover unpaid wages (i.e. wager theft)". It is evident that "right to work" protects only the rights of employers, and is a far cry from promoting "The Rights of Workers". "Home rule" will only benefit the Rulers in home districts, and permit them to impose their will on the workers.    


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