By: Mike Pike
Labor unions have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging a Hardin County “right-to-work” ordinance that prohibits unions from requiring employees to pay dues at a unionized workplace. The case was filed in federal court in Louisville, and currently deals with only Hardin County, but the outcome of the case would likely impact other western Kentucky counties that have adopted such ordinances.
Those in favor of the ordinances say right to work is a economic issue and is needed to be more competitive and create jobs. Those who oppose right to work ordinances say they are designed to break unions and could lead to lower wages.
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled several decades ago that “right-to-work” laws can only be made at the state level, because of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRB), a federal law governing union activities. The NLRB says that only states or territories can enact “right-to-work” legislation. The lawsuit alleges that Hardin County is not legally a “state” or a “territory” and that consequently the county had no authority to enact the ordinance. The Kentucky Attorney General has recently released an opinion stating that counties lack the authority to pass this type of ordinance.
“Right-to-work” legislation has been debated at the state level in Kentucky for years but has never been enacted. Last week in Frankfort, right-to-work legislation died in a House committee. Now that Hardin County and other counties have done an end run around the state legislature to pass this type of law, the courts will ultimately decide the fate of this “right-to-work” legislation.
Stay tuned for additional coverage as this issue is litigated in the court.
Mike currently is the attorney for the Cities of Radcliff and Vine Grove, advising elected officials, employees, and various city boards on a wide variety of legal matters. A member of the American Bar Association, the Kentucky Bar Association, Hardin County Bar, Meade County Bar, and Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Mike focuses his legal practice on cases concerning personal injury and social security, municipal law, business formation, and estates and probate law. Additionally, Mike oversees the real estate law department for the firm.