Kentucky State Workers in Crosshairs of Tea Party Governor

by David Patterson  |  January 08, 2016

Kentucky State Workers in Crosshairs of Tea Party Governor

In one of his first policy decisions after being inaugurated, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin set his sights clearly on state employees. He reversed an executive order from the Beshear administration that raised the minimum wage for state employees, and abolished the governor’s employee advisory council (GEAC), which allowed state employees certified union representation. He also ordered a state hiring freeze.

Currently ranked 41st in pay for state workers by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, Kentucky state employees, and workers employed by state government vendors, would have seen their minimum wage raised to $10.10 per hour, up from $7.25, under the executive order issued by then-Gov. Steve Beshear last June and set to go in effect Jan. 1.

Bevin’s abolishment of the GEAC strikes down state employees’ access to united representation. The council allowed employee representatives to discuss wages, hours and terms of employment for merit employees.

"Bevin’s decision to eliminate the GEAC is a bad one for the state of Kentucky,” said Debra Garcia, executive director of the AFSCME Indiana/Kentucky Organizing Committee 962, which represents thousands of state employees across Kentucky. “Through the GEAC process, state employees worked collaboratively with the state to resolve workplace issues that affect both employees and management.”

“These actions are real proof that this governor is not interested in providing Kentucky’s workers with a fair voice, a decent wage or real dignity at their workplace,” she said.

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