In the first weeks of convening the latest Kentucky legislature, Governor Matt Bevin and his big business republican colleagues pushed through multiple bills pushed by corporate interest groups that harm hard working families. One such law that was forced through in record time is Right to Work for Less, which allows free-riders to receive all the benefits and protections of union membership without any of the cost. Other anti-worker bills include a paycheck deception act restricting workers’ ability to make contributions to their union and the elimination of prevailing wage for construction projects, a law that was originally enacted to protect the pay rates of local construction workers.
Not long after these attacks on hard working families in Kentucky, similar legislation was brought up by West Chester Township Trustees and two different Right to Work for Less bills were introduced in the Ohio legislature. In coordination with community partners and allies in labor, UFCW Local 75 participated in several actions to push back against these unfair laws that make work places less safe, erode the ability for hard working people to have a voice on the job and create a race to the bottom for wages and benefits.
In February UFCW Local 75 partnered with Local 227 in Louisville, KY for a lobby day in which members and staff traveled to the state capitol in Frankfurt to address these anti-worker policies and promote bi-partisan legislation that would provide certain civil rights for pregnant workers, including requiring employers to provide appropriate accommodations for light duty. Although many of the extreme politicians that passed the Right to Work for Less legislation refused to meet with us, members were able to speak directly with several of their representatives about these important issues.
After packing several meetings with UFCW and other union members, the West Chester township trustees have decided to take no further action, and we will continue to monitor the situation and be diligent and pushing back against these attacks.
Towards the end of March, UFCW Local 75 and Local 1059 in Central, Ohio joined forces for a Lobby Day in Columbus to discuss the Right to Work for Less bills being circulated. Similar to the experience in Kentucky, several lawmakers supporting these bad laws refused to meet with UFCW members. Bill Finnegan, a 29-year member of UFCW Local 75 at Campbell’s Soup in Napoleon Ohio said, “I was able to meet with both my State Representative and State Senator. One was against us, but took the time to listen to what I had to say.” Bill was not able to change this lawmakers mind, but having heard from a lifelong resident of his district, the representative agreed that this was an issue that should be taken to voters directly. About his other meeting Bill said, “my Senator stated that not only did he stand with us against Right to Work for Less, but he had received calls from several businesses in the area stating they were against this misleading legislation.”
With local elections happening this November and Statewide elections in the fall of 2018, Local 75 Legislative and Political staff will continue to monitor the attacks on hard working families, organize UFCW members and community partners to protect our rights and advance policies that are proven to strengthen the middle class.