KY Judge Rules Against 10th Amendment and Local Right Work

In 2015, a dozen Kentucky counties, empowered by the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, passed local right-to-work ordinances that protect a worker’s right-to-work in the private sector without paying union dues. Kentucky counties realized they were at a competitive disadvantage against recruiting jobs that were going to surrounding right-to-work states. According to Capital Research Center, the list of business suitors who decided to go elsewhere included Beretta, the iconic American gun manufacturer that liked Bowling Green, which is in Warren County, but chose nearby Gallatin, Tennessee, which has a right-to-work law. Kyoto Tires also wanted to come to Kentucky, but its owners changed their minds late in the process, picking right-to-work Georgia after a last minute email from a rival remarked on Bowling Green’s unions.

At its very core, the idea of “local right-to-work ordinances,” which first appeared as model policy of the American City County Exchange, is based on the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The states through their political subdivisions (local governments) have the right to protect their citizens from being forced to pay dues to a political labor union in order to have the job they desire. Yesterday, a federal judge appointed by President Obama has ruled the federal government gets to decide how a state administers its powers. In the political crosshairs of the labor unions and the federal judge is the freedom of speech afforded to workers who choose to keep their jobs but decline to pay dues toward union political activities. From a recent Protect My Paycheck, Inc., press release:

In the case of UAW vs. Hardin County, the union asked the Court to roll back local protections of employees who choose to opt out of forced union dues. The unions that filed suit in this case collect over $1 Billion annually in dues – most of that from employees who have no choice but to pay. They also contribute hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle to President Obama and his allies. The National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency, defied a standing executive order signed by Bill Clinton entitled “Federalism” which instructs federal agencies to interpret the term “state” in legislation and regulations to include “local governments…” when it submitted a brief in support of the union arguing just the opposite. The NLRB’s members and its General Counsel, like the Judge, are Obama appointees.

Since local right-to-work ordinances were passed in 12 Kentucky counties, the city of Lincolnshire, Illinois, passed their own version of local right-to-work. Other local governments in non-right-to-work states are considering the same legislation.

If local governments have been granted the power to pass local right-to-work by their respective states, the federal government has no say how those powers are delegated. Local jurisdictions are creations of their states and are not wards of the federal government.

An appeal is forthcoming in federal appeals court, where the judge’s ruling is expected to be overturned.

In Depth: Federalism

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