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January 4, 2017 7:34pm

First Thing’s First: Pass Right to Work


With the elections in the far rearview mirror, Kentuckians are ready to take the campaign promises to the bank. At the top of the list, Greater Louisville Inc. is particularly hopeful that the Governor and legislative leaders in the House and Senate will pass Right-to-Work (RTW) legislation during the 2017 General Assembly.  The legislation has experienced rapid movement early this week.  RTW was introduced yesterday and designated HB 1, an indication the House has placed it as the top priority for the chamber.

GLI believes union membership should be a matter of personal choice, not a requirement to maintain employment. Critics will claim this law would deny workers the opportunity from joining a union. It is quite the contrary. In fact, a 2015 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that unions gained more members in the then-permitted 25 RTW states compared to non-RTW states.

Since that study, 26 states now allow the option to affiliate with a union. Our state is the only southern state without a RTW law. This includes four of Kentucky’s border states that have enacted this legislation.

GLI’s goal is to recruit new businesses, retain jobs, and encourage expansion in all sectors, simply put, Kentucky cannot afford to lag in its competitiveness. We no longer want our Commonwealth to be by-passed by site selectors who rule us out due to our lack of RTW laws, before we have an opportunity to showcase qualities that make our state a great place to do business. Failure to address this issue during this year’s regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly would be a major blow to the state’s business community and will continue to make our Commonwealth a conspicuous outlier in this much needed area of reform.

Movement in this direction would represent an important step in Kentucky’s efforts to recruit and retain good-paying jobs. RTW states have seen faster growth in manufacturing and non-agricultural jobs, faster per capita income growth, greater capital expenditures, fewer work stoppages, and lower unemployment.

GLI is dedicated to work closely with our state legislators to make certain this remains a top priority for the 2017 session and we look forward to its bipartisan passage in the upcoming weeks.