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Why Workers Everywhere Should Be Scared by Kentucky's Assault on Unions

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message John Nichols       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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Workers should be preparing to push back as the Republicans who control the White House and the Congress bring their anti-union agenda to Washington.

Republican Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin
Republican Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin
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"A lot of working people voted for change in this election," argued Bill Finn, the director of the Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council. "They didn't vote for this. They didn't vote for a pay cut."

Finn got that right. Kentucky Republicans launched the new year with a race to enact sweeping anti-labor legislation, and they aren't concerning themselves with the question of whether they have a mandate to assault labor unions and undermine wages and workplace protections in the Bluegrass State. They are moving immediately, aggressively, and thoroughly to implement an across-the-board assault on workers and the unions that represent them.

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And with just two weeks to go before Donald Trump is inaugurated as president, Kentucky Republicans are doing something else. They are providing a powerful reminder of the threat to working families that arises when Republicans gain "trifecta control" (taking charge of the executive branch and both legislative chambers) of the governing process. Until this year, Democrats controlled the Kentucky House of Representatives and were able to block anti-labor legislation that was advanced by Republican Governor Matt Bevin and his allies in the Republican-controlled state Senate -- with strong backing from national anti-union groups financed by the Koch brothers and other billionaire donors. But in November Republicans won a majority in the Kentucky House. That gave them complete control of the process, and they have made it their first priority to approve anti-labor measures.

Union busting is on a fast track in Kentucky, where Republican legislators have refused to even consider the arguments of workers, community leaders, responsible business owners, and academics who explain that assaults of worker rights do little or nothing to promote economic development -- and much to harm working families. Among those expressing thoughtful opposition to the anti-union measures that are rapidly advancing in Kentucky was Bishop John Stowe of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington, who the Kentucky AFL-CIO reported wrote in an open letter that "The weakening of unions by so-called 'right to work' laws, has been shown to reduce wages and benefits overall in the states where such laws have been enacted. This cannot be seen as contributing to the common good."

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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