In the wake of the 2016 election, Republicans took control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives in Kentucky for the first time in almost a century, and they did not waste any time following through on their promise to enact right-to-work legislation.
In a special Saturday session on January 7, 2017, Governor Matt Bevin signed into law HB 1, making Kentucky the 27th state in the nation to pass right-to-work legislation. Kentucky joins its neighbors Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia in becoming a right-to-work state. The Kentucky law was effective immediately. Although the new law does not affect existing labor agreements, it applies to any new contract, and extensions or renewals of existing agreements, which become effective after January 7, 2017.
The Kentucky law states that no employee is required to (1) become or remain a member of a union; (2) pay any dues, fees, or assessments of any kind to a union; or (3) pay any amount, in lieu of union dues, to any charity or other third party. Any union or employer that violates this new law is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, and those aggrieved may seek a court injunction, damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
The new law signed by Governor Bevin also prohibits public employees from engaging in strikes or work stoppages, although they may organize and bargain collectively over the terms and conditions of employment.
Governor Bevin also signed a law eliminating the prevailing wage employers must now pay on work funded with public money.
About the Author
Mark A. McAnulty, a partner at Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn, LLP, in Evansville, Indiana, practices labor and employment law, and is a member of the KDDK litigation, trials and appeals practice team. Licensed to practice in Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri, Mark has represented clients in administrative and judicial proceedings throughout the tri-state area. Mark counsels clients regarding hiring and disciplinary issues, as well as compliance with local, state and federal employment laws. Mark also works with clients in reviewing and drafting employment contracts, non-compete agreements, and employee handbooks; and has advised and represented employers in labor management and union avoidance matters.