by Clyde Weiss | January 09, 2017
In the rush to do the bidding of right-wing groups and corporate billionaires, Kentucky lawmakers passed legislation over the weekend that will make it harder for working families to get ahead – or even to stay where they are – whether or not they are union members.
Despite the focus during the presidential election campaign on helping average Americans get a better deal, Kentucky GOP lawmakers passed (and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed into law) a so-called right-to-work (RTW) bill whose very name distorts the truth of how it actually harms working people.
“Let's just call it what it is. This week has been a massacre of the middle class,” said Democratic state Rep. Will Coursey.
The Kentucky Senate also voted over the weekend to repeal the state’s prevailing-wage law. Contractors in Kentucky can now reap more profits on public construction by paying lower wages to their construction workers.
Such actions “will only lower the wages and benefits of workers, both union and nonunion, and further tilt our economy and political life toward dominance by big business and the wealthy,” Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, said before Kentucky’s right-to-work vote. “Moreover,” he added, “right-to-work will weaken the ability of unions to provide a voice for workers in the political and legislative realms – likely the major reason the newly empowered Republicans want to pass it.”
So what is the driving force behind RTW laws? Right-wing politics, plain and simple. Just two months after taking control of the General Assembly for the first time since 1921, Kentucky’s GOP lawmakers took aim at workers’ unions to weaken them, a long-sought goal of right-wing groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council.
In aiming at unions, however, they hit a different target: workers themselves.
RTW laws “seek to hamstring unions’ ability to help employees bargain with their employers for better wages, benefits, and working conditions,” says EPI’s report. Union and nonunion workers in RTW states have “lower wages and fewer benefits, on average, than comparable workers in other states,” the report says.
RTW is a scam that hurts all workers. Learn more here.
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