FRANKFORT — Nine labor unions are challenging in federal court a Hardin County ordinance that prohibits unions from requiring employees to pay dues at a unionized workplace.
The 12-page lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Louisville, covers only Hardin County, but it could be expanded to cover four other Western Kentucky counties that have adopted such ordinances. They are Warren, Simpson, Fulton and Todd counties.
The Hardin County lawsuit was filed one day after the local government approved a so-called right-to-work ordinance.
Proponents of the ordinances, including the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, say they are needed to create more jobs. Opponents, including state AFL-CIO president Bill Londrigan, said they are designed to bust unions, and that could lead to lower wages.
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"Kentucky's highest court has ruled that these so-called 'right to work' laws can only be made at the state level. This local ordinance is illegal and will hurt our hard-working families," Londrigan said in a news release.
Londrigan also said that Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has released an opinion stating that counties lack the authority to pass this type of ordinance.
Twenty-four states have similar laws. The issue has been discussed in the Kentucky General Assembly for years but has repeatedly died in the Democratic-led House.