A Circuit Court judge has dismissed a challenge to Kentucky’s so-called “right-to-work” laws filed last year by labor unions.
Right to work policies forbid payment of dues as a condition to get or keep a job in Kentucky, though current collective bargaining agreements between unions and companies are still enforceable until they expire. When Kentucky’s General Assembly passed the law in January, 2017, it made the commonwealth the 27th right to work state. Since then, Missouri has passed similar legislation.
The laws have come under fire by labor unions, who argue that it forces them to represent and bargain for workers in unionized workplaces, even if those workers choose not to pay union dues. In May, a group of union representatives challenged Kentucky’s law, arguing among other things that it violated the equal protection and arbitrary action provisions of the Kentucky Constitution.
But in the decision filed Tuesday, Franklin County Judge Thomas Wingate dismissed the case.
“The Court holds that Plaintiffs do not hold a vested property interest in union services or future union security contracts, and, further, the [Kentucky Right to Work] Act does not constitute a taking. The Court similarly finds that the KRTW Act does not violate the equal protection afforded by the Kentucky Constitute, nor is it special legislation that was enacted without an emergency purpose,” Wingate wrote.
In a press release, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin applauded the decision.
“The Court’s ruling confirmed what we already knew: Kentucky’s right-to-work law rests on a sound legal bedrock and is an essential economic driver for our state, bringing unprecedented job growth and a record $9.2 billion in corporate investment in 2017,” Bevin wrote. “This weak attempt to stop Kentucky’s economic growth through legal challenges has been appropriately smacked down.”
Recent legal challenges to similar right to work laws in West Virginia and Wisconsin have also been unsuccessful.