In Frankfort on the scene of the economic committee meeting attempting to fast track the union busting bill through. The unions showed up, but were dismayed to find the room had been filled early by proponents of the bill. (Photo credit Greg Welch)
Last year, Kentucky was home to the only Democratic-majority legislative chamber in the South. That changed on Nov. 8 with Donald Trump’s win, and now the Kentucky GOP maintains its senate majority, while the House—once organized labor’s firewall—has flipped, and is now in the hands of Republicans.
This clears the way for a Republican assault on Kentucky unions and health care needs. It took only two days of the new legislative session for Kentucky House Republicans to ignore the growing needs and inequalities of the middle class in order to pass anti-choice and anti-union measures out of committee. This took the form of two measures to restrict a woman’s ability to get an abortion and a set of anti-union measures.
House Bill 2 – Abortion
Both the Kentucky House and Senate have been busy whittling away women’s rights. Senate Bills 5 and 8 would ban abortions for women after the 20th week of their pregnancy. A second anti-choice bill, House Bill 2, would require that women be shown an ultrasound prior to an abortion. Under the bill, any doctor sympathetic enough to forego these onerous requirements would face fines and suspensions.
Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said on Tuesday that women seeking abortions “had a choice early on to make a decision to conceive or not.” Stivers’ comment shows his callous disregard to the many ways a women may become pregnant. It does not account for all women in Kentucky, nor the circumstances that they may have to face in later stages of pregnancy such as medical issues impacting their health or that of an unborn child.
Both bills are expected to pass by an overwhelming majority on the Senate floor by Saturday, Jan. 6, 2017.
Amber Duke, communications director for the ACLU of Kentucky, said, “It’s unfortunate after weeks of lawmakers promising business would be their top priority and social issues wouldn’t be on the front burner that within hours of gaveling in we see two anti-abortion bills that seem to be on the fast track.”
We at TWW USA believe that both of these pieces of legislation pose a serious threat because they marginalize women and ignore their health needs in individual circumstances. We also believe that all women deserve dignity and should have the right to make personal and private medical decisions without interference from politicians.
Kentucky Republican lawmakers are poised to pass not only an anti-choice bill, but also a slew of anti-labor measures. The House “Right-to-Work” bill (HB 1) copies other bills across the South devastating worker’s rights and wages. The House Pay Wage bill (HB 3) repeals the prevailing wage law that affects nearly 40% of construction jobs, and Senate Bill 6, the “paycheck protection” measure, makes it more difficult for unions to collect dues and fight their battles.
“Politicians didn’t create the labor movement and politicians aren’t going to destroy the labor movement,” said DeLane Adams, Atlanta-based AFL-CIO southeast region communications director.
Both HB 1 and 3 include emergency clauses, which means they will be enacted into law after they are signed by the governor. Kentucky is the only southern state that has not passed a “right-to-work” law. Republicans have tried for years to pass similar proposals, only to be blocked by Democrats.
Union leaders point out that nearly all of the poorest states in the nation are “right-to-work” states. “What folks need to understand, in a right-to-work state you’ve got no opportunity to negotiate a contract with an employer that requires the payment of the fees for the services that are provided, and those services are critical, and those services include collective bargaining agreements that protect workers, that take away the element of at-will employment, that also provide benefits,” Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan said. “Right-to-work is simply a clever slogan that is designed to undermine union resources and effectiveness, and damage labor’s political and legislative effectiveness, public image, and union solidarity.”
We at TWW USA agree and believe that what “right to work” really means is the “the right to work for less,” and that “paycheck protection” really means paycheck deception. We believe that anti-union measures drive down wages, and that strong unions help boost the economy and build the middle class.
Kentucky’s Republican house speaker says the state legislature will likely meet on Saturday to pass the bills, noting that passing the bills so quickly would “make a statement” that Republicans are serious about getting things done. In Kentucky, a state where 8.5% of the population is still uninsured and the poverty rate is at 20% and is currently in an upward trend, as stated in the 2016 Kentucky Annual Report published by the University of Kentucky, Republican lawmakers have decided that social issues should eclipse the economic concerns of Kentucky residents.
ACTION - CALL & SHARE
Call your legislators at 1-800-372-7181, ask them to vote NO on the anti-union and anti-abortion bills: Senate Bills 5, 6 and 8, and House Bills 1, 2 and 3.
“Hi, my name is ( your name), and I’m calling from (your location-If you are from Kentucky). I strongly oppose HB1 because it weakens the rights of workers, and I oppose HB3 because it will lower the wages of employees in our state. I also urge you to vote against Senate Bills 5 and House Bill 2 that limits abortion access. The best way to reduce abortions overall is to improve the economic well-being of women and families, as economic factors are a major reason why many women abort early in pregnancy.”
WHO TO CALL
- Click on the link below
- Enter your address (zip code alone may not be accurate)
- Touch/point with mouse next to your location, and a popup will appear with the names of your legislators.
- Follow the link on the popup below each legislator’s name to get that person’s phone number, email, committee assignments, etc