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Kentucky Passes Right-to-Work Legislation

On Saturday, Jan. 7th, Kentucky’s state Senate voted 25–12 to pass legislation making it the nation’s 27th right-to-work state — and the last southern state to do so. The bill allows individuals to work in union-represented facilities and received union-negotiated benefits without having to join the union and pay union dues.

In a statement to Reuters, Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover said, “I personally have no problem with an individual opting to be part of a labor union…but government shouldn't stand in the way of someone who opts not to join a union.”

Kentucky’s legislature — now controlled by Republicans for the first time in nearly a century — believes the right-to-work law will help to boost economic development in the state and now puts it in the same league as other states in the region that have recently passed right-to-work laws, including Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 200,000 Kentucky workers belonged to unions in 2015. Labor activists in the state are protesting against those who reap union benefits without paying dues, calling these workers “free riders.” Hoover responded to this by saying, “Right-to-work is not an anti-union measure, but a pro-worker measure as Kentuckians will no longer be forced to join a union in order to work the job they choose.”

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