UAW Faces Right-To-Work Laws in Kentucky Counties

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
uaw faces right to work laws in kentucky counties

States with right-to-work laws are in green. Wikipedia graphic.

Organized labor has had setbacks as states formerly seen as union strongholds in the industrial midwest, Wisconsin and Michigan, have enacted right-to-work legislation that makes paying union dues voluntary. Now, the United Auto Workers, which has been trying to organize autoworkers at ‘transplant’ facilities operated in the American south by foreign automakers faces the prospect of dealing with right-to-work laws at the county level, in Kentucky. The new laws present the autoworkers’ union with a double whammy.

Three counties in Kentucky, Fulton, Simpson, and Warren counties, have already passed laws and Hardin, Todd, and Cumberland counties are expected to do so in the near future. While no such law currently exists in Scott county, where the UAW would love to organize Toyota’s large Georgetown assembly facility, many Kentucky counties are expected to follow suit, hampering the UAW’s organizing efforts in the state. Furthermore, Warren county is the home of General Motors’ Corvette assembly plant. That means that as the union faces a greater challenge to organize at foreign owned auto plants, it could conceivably be decertified at a facility operated by one of the Big 3 Detroit automakers, something unheard of.

Chad Poynor, a UAW committeeman at the Corvette recently told the New York Times, “You hear people all the time say, ‘If I were in a right-to-work state, I’d withdraw’.”

While the labor movement plans lawsuits, claiming that county laws cannot trump federal labor law, right-to-work activists point out that while the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled on local right-to-work laws, the National Labor Relations Act specifically permits the individual states to enact such legislation. Furthermore, the congressional record shows that Congress, in the NLRA, expressly disavowed that federal law superseded state right-to-work laws and that view has been uphold by the Supreme Court when unions have challenged state RTW statutes.

As federal labor law currently stands, a union that has been certified at a company can require non-member employees to pay the costs of representing them, unless such requirements are “prohibited by state or territorial law” as stated in the NLRA.

Kentucky law expressly gives counties regulatory authority over commerce and economic development, so in the eyes of the federal government, at least as RTW activists see it, county laws should be seen as the equivalent to state laws. For its part, the AFL-CIO says, “Nice try — state means state.”

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  • NoGoYo NoGoYo on Jan 05, 2015

    I thought "right to work" meant "right to be fired from your job for no reason and be stuck trying to get another job while having no money".

    • Redav Redav on Jan 06, 2015

      Since the vast majority of people in right to work states get by just fine, I guess that's not an accurate definition, then.

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Jan 06, 2015

    I do think this is a great move by the counties. People who want to be a part of a political movement can do so if they wish. I do think in over the next couple of decades unions will become the flavour of the month again. This time it will not be so much the "blue collar" workers. If I were a betting man I would say anyone involved in a job that has recurring processes will become robotic or AI. How many professional middle class jobs sit in this bracket? I've read 65%. As I've mention on this site previously, the late 19th century with the advent of the electric motor removed many (then) middle class jobs. Process workers multiplied rapidly to create consumer goods. Socialists and their union brethren multiplied like locust to infect to world with their communal ideals in the search for Utopia. It's about the occur again, it's already started. We will be the better for it in the longer run after some more re-adjustment of our economies and politics. What I find really odd about this is the fact that most middle class jobs historically can and will be replaced by machines/AI/robotics. The jobs that are the hardest to replace are the "menial" low paying jobs that are difficult to be done by a machine or computer. So, are the textile workers, burger flippers and farmhands grossly under paid. Are we so called "smart" people not as clever as we thought?

  • TheEndlessEnigma GM, Ford and Stellantis have significant oversupply of product sitting on dealer lots and banked up in holding yards across the country. Big 3 management is taking advantage of UAW's action to bring their inventories inline to what they deem reasonable. When you have models pushing 6 months of supply having your productions lines shut down by a strike is not something that's going to worry you. UAW does not have any advantages here, but they are directly impacting the financial well being of their membership. Who will be the first to blink? Those UAW members waving the signs around and receiving "strike pay" that is, what, 20% of their wages? UAW is screwing up this time around.
  • CEastwood Seven mil nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight for oil changes and such and the thicker heavy duty gripper gloves from Wally World for most everything else . Hell we used to use no gloves for any of that and when we did it was usually the white cloth gloves bought by the dozen or the gray striped cuff ones for heavy duty use . Old man rant over , but I laugh when I see these types of gloves in a bargain bin at Home Cheapo for 15 bucks a pair !
  • Not Previous Used Car of the Day entries that spent decades in the weeds would still be a better purchase than this car. The sucker who takes on this depreciated machine will learn the hard way that a cheap German car is actually a very expensive way to drive around.
  • Bullnuke Well, production cuts may be due to transport-to-market issues. The MV Fremantle Highway is in a Rotterdam shipyard undergoing repairs from the last shipment of VW products (along with BMW and others) and to adequately fireproof it. The word in the shipping community is that insurance necessary for ships moving EVs is under serious review.
  • Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks