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Via The Nation: Why Workers Everywhere ‘Should Be Scared’ by Kentucky’s Assault On Unions

No One Should Be ‘Fooled’ By This President-Elect’s Attempts To ‘Portray Himself As A Friend Of Workers’ – Instead, Workers ‘Should Be Preparing To Push Back’ As The GOP Brings Their Anti-Union Agenda To Washington

Published Thursday, January 12, 2017
by John Nichols/The Nation

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - “A lot of Working People ‘voted for change’ in this election,” argued Bill Finn, who serves as the Director of the Kentucky State Building & Construction Trades Council. “They ‘didn’t vote for this.’  They ‘didn’t vote for a pay cut.’”

Finn got that right.

Kentucky Republicans launched the new year with a race to enact sweeping Anti-Labor Legislation and they aren’t concerning themselves with the question of whether they have a mandate to assault Labor Unions and undermine wages and workplace protections in the Bluegrass State.

They are moving immediately, aggressively and thoroughly to implement an across-the-board assault on Workers and the Unions that represent them.

And with just days to go before Donald Trump is inaugurated as president, Kentucky Republicans are doing something else.  They’re providing a powerful reminder of the threat to Working Families that arises when Republicans gain “trifecta control” (taking charge of the executive branch and both legislative chambers) of the governing process.

Until this year, Democrats controlled the Kentucky House of Representatives and were able to block Anti-Labor legislation that was advanced by Republican Governor Matt Bevin and his allies in the Republican-controlled state Senate - with strong backing from national Anti-Union groups financed by the Koch Brothers and other billionaire donors - but in November, Republicans won a majority in the Kentucky House.  That gave them complete control of the process and they’ve made it their first priority to approve Anti-Labor measures.

Union busting is on a fast track in Kentucky, where Republican legislators have refused to even consider the arguments of Workers, community leaders, responsible business owners and academics who explain that assaults of Worker Rights do little or nothing to promote economic development - and much to harm Working Families.

Among those expressing thoughtful opposition to the Anti-Union Measures that are rapidly advancing in Kentucky was Bishop John Stowe of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington, who the Kentucky AFL-CIO reported wrote in an open letter: “The weakening of Unions by so-called ‘Right-To-Work’ Laws, has been shown to reduce wages and benefits overall in the States where such laws have been enacted.  This cannot be seen as contributing to the common good.”

Unfortunately, there was no stopping Kentucky’s newly empowered Republicans, who were on a deliberate and determined mission that was not going to be delayed by economic, social or moral arguments.

“The chants of Union Workers were little deterrent to Governor Matt Bevin and his GOP colleagues in the Kentucky House and Senate, who have made approving the bills their top priority of the 2017 General Assembly,” The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. “Shouts and banging could be heard from the hallway, but the meeting room itself was packed with supporters as the House Committee on Economic Development and Workforce Investment passed House Bill One, which would allow Workers to avoid paying Union Dues even if they work under a Union-Negotiated Contract, and House Bill Three, which would repeal the Prevailing Wage Law.”

Kentucky is just one state, but Republicans there are following a playbook written by Republican governors such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker.

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