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Right-to-work policy debated for KY

(LEXINGTON, Ky.) – Kentucky’s economic health could be greatly strengthened by implementing a right-to-work policy, Bluegrass Institute vice chairman Warren Rogers told a sold-out crowd at a debate sponsored by the Lexington Forum last Thursday.

Right-to-work guarantees that no person can be compelled to join or pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Rogers, a Lexington businessman, predicted that a new right-to-work law in neighboring Indiana “will have a profound impact on Indiana, … and a negative impact on the state of Kentucky unless we do something about it.”

Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill into law on Feb. 1 that made the Indiana the 23rd state in the nation to implement a right-to-work policy.

Rogers noted that six days later, Caterpillar announced that it was relocating a plant – and 450 jobs to Indiana. On Feb. 17, the heavy equipment company announced a new manufacturing plant and its 1,400 jobs in Athens, Georgia – a state that provides right-to-work protection. 

“Right-to-work is long overdue in this state,” he said. “We are squeezed between Indiana, Tennessee and Virginia – states that have lots of economic activity.”

All new auto plants built in the United States during the last decades were built in right-to-work states, including Hyundai, which shunned Kentucky’s offer of land and tax incentives and instead located in Montgomery, Alabama – a right-to-work state.

Arguing against right-to-work was Lexington attorney Richard Dawahare, who disputed Rogers’ claim that without a right-to-work law, workers are forced to join labor unions and financially contribute to unions’ causes.

“Right to work is a false slogan,” Dawahare said. “They are not forced to join a union but they are forced to pay a fair share” for representation.

But Rogers said “very few workers who disagree with their union’s political contribution ever get their money back.”

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