Jack Conway educates Christian County fund raiser on right to work

AFT Local 1360

Hopkinsville,Kentucky is not exactly union territory.

But at a fund-raiser in the Christian County seat, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jack Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general, forthrightly fielded a question about “right to work” from supporter Gail Hardy, a retired Cadiz teacher who still packs a Kentucky Education Association card.

“After his speech, he asked if anyone had any questions,” Hardy said. “I brought up right to work. He expounded on it and said it is not legal for counties to do. He talked about how it lowers salaries and is bad for all workers and for our state.”

The crowd was friendly. But Hardy said she could see “that most of the people there didn’t know much about RTW. It made me think that a lot of folks need an education on unions and what they have done for this country and for families.”

Hardy, a member of KEA’s political action committee, added that she and a friend in Bowling Green talk politics on the phone almost every day.… Read more.

More chicken you-know-what from the union-busters

AFT Local 1360

Sometimes, news release writers have to try to make chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what.

It goes with the job if you’re in PR.

Anyway, a scribe for Florida-based Protect My Check, one of those anti-union groups pushing county “right to work” ordinances in Kentucky, dutifully diced the pecans, grapes and celery and slathered on the mayo in a recent release. But RTW is still chicken you-know-what.

The Boone County fiscal court’s unanimous vote for a county RTW ordinance means that “more than 500,000 Kentuckians are now protected by Right to Work,” the release says.

Counting Boone, 11 of Kentucky’s 120 counties have passed RTW ordinances. That’s about 9 percent.

Five other counties have had first readings on RTW ordinances. Add them in, and you get 13 percent.

Anyway, I guess the author of the release figures “over 500,000 Kentuckians” sounds more impressive than 11 or 16 counties.… Read more.

County judge-executive trio says no to ‘right to work’

AFT Local 1360

Three county judge-executives have written Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan saying they oppose county “right-to-work” ordinances.

“I see the right-to-work legislation as a means to undermine labor unions and lower wages,” wrote Democrat Robert W. Carter of Greenup County.

“Henderson County rejects all efforts to pass a right-to-work ordinance,” wrote Democrat Donald Hugh McCormick. “The right-to-work ordinance undermines labor unions with the intent to lower the wages of hard working Kentuckians.”

Republican Judge David Johnston of Ohio County wrote, “We have no plans or desires to pass a local ordinance, nor to advocate for a state law on the matter.”

Greenup County is in eastern Kentucky. Henderson and Ohio counties are in western Kentucky.

Eleven counties have approved RTW ordinances. Kentucky has 120 counties.

In December, Attorney Gen. Jack Conway issued an official opinion warning that the county RTW measures are unconstitutional. In January, nine unions challenged the Hardin County ordinance in federal court in Louisville.… Read more.

The ‘right to work trickle’

AFT Local 1360

The union-busters would have us believe that a “right to work” tide is sweeping the country.

A trickle is more like it. But you wouldn’t know that from the media.

Wisconsin recently was all over the news for becoming the 25th right to work state. But in a USA Today opinion piece, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka pointed out what the media hasn’t made as much of: state legislatures in New Hampshire, West Virginia, New Mexico, Maine and Montana turning thumbs down on RTW.

RTW failed in the current session of the Kentucky General Assembly, to boot.

Anyway, the union-busters are one for seven in states this year. In baseball, my favorite sport, that’s a .143 bench-warmer batting average.

In the Bluegrass State, the union-busters have made the news big-time for pushing county RTW ordinances. They bragged that 30 counties would approve local RTW measures by the end of January, Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan recalls.… Read more.

Sunday Train: Five Levels of US Intercity Rail Policy

By BruceMcF

In Sunday Train last week, I referred to the Bipartisan Majority to Authorize the funding of Amtrak as “Good News”. One commentator in the discussion in one of the crossposts pointed out that the news wasn’t all that particularly good, since continued funding on this basis over the indefinite future will spell serious trouble for the system as a whole.

Now, as I suggested more than once, the “good news” last week certainly was not unqualified good news … that is, to say it was “qualified” good news was already taking on board the bad electoral news for Amtrak in the continued Republican House Majority combined with a new Republican Senate Majority, which opened the door to some of the deep, slashing cuts to Amtrak that some on the Republican side have long hoped to make. So the “qualified good news” was that in going for a total defunding of Amtrak, the radical reactionary wing of the Republican party overplayed its hand, opening the way for a majority of House Republicans, along with basically the entire Democratic caucus, to authorize the continued funding of Amtrak at just about the levels that have been in place over the past four years.… Read more.

‘Right to work’ and its racist roots in Dixie

“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work,’” Martin Luther King Jr. warned. “It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”

Not coincidentally, all 11 ex-Confederate states are right to work states. In the South, right to work has deep racist roots, according to Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, a labor historian and author at Loyola University in Chicago.

The goal of Dixie’s RTW proponents was to help uphold the region’s white supremacist system of Jim Crow segregation, race discrimination and voter suppression, “thereby preserving the agricultural elite’s political and economic power,” she wrote in “Counter-Organizing the Sunbelt: Right-to-Work Campaigns and Anti-Union Conservatism, 1943-1958,” her 2009 Pacific Historical Review article.

She explained that at the end of World War II, the Southern white powers-that-be faced a triple challenge from “a growing industrial class formed out of wartime mobilization, a burgeoning trade union movement, and a new push for racial equality from both African Americans and militant CIO organizers, who believed that the only way to organize was to attack the system of white supremacy that structured the South’s politics, economy, and society.”

Shermer quoted a journalist who wrote that Mississippi plantation owners seemed to despise union organizers as much as they hated foes of segregation: “[W]henever the talk turned to labor unions, the conversation was violent and burdened with hate and fear.”

Indeed, the reactionary Southern aristocracy and its apologists in politics, the pulpit and the press hated and feared unions because in a union everybody is equal.… Read more.

Sunday Train: On Amtrak, I’ve got some good news, and some bad news.

This last week, there was the surprising start to a headline in the Washington Post that began, “GOP House and White House agree on something” … and that something was: Amtrak funding (and pets on a train).

But its not all good news this week … because if the INDOT has its way, the Hoosier State will be cancelled.

BruceMcF :: Sunday Train: On Amtrak, I’ve got some good news, and some bad news.Just when you thought it was a good news week …

From NPR:

The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act passed on a vote of 316-101 (132 Republicans joined 184 Democrats in voting for the bill; 101 Republicans voted against). It keeps spending for Amtrak at nearly current levels – about $1.4 billion a year – for the next four years, and includes other reforms aimed at improving the railroad’s fiscal performance.

… so that is a majority of the Republican majority voting for a bill that both Heritage Action and Club for Growth were scoring, looking for a “No” vote to gain their approval, and which the White House gave qualified approval to (though perhaps it helped some of those Republicans that they can point to parts of the bill that the White House did not approve of).… Read more.

50th anniversary of the Selma march, the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the significance for trade unions

50th anniversary of the Selma march, the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the significance for trade unions

Sat Mar 07, 2015 at 23:44:39 PM EST

Emeritus Director, Kentucky Labor Institute
The 50th anniversary of the Selma March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge needs special attention and commemoration by trade unions. The struggle against racism and for full equality and justice for Afro-Americans and union efforts for economic justice are indivisible.

We need to remember that Martin Luther King was assassinated defending the rights of unionized sanitation workers.

Important labor leaders like Cleveland Robinson of Local 65 of the United Retail and Wholesale Union Workers as well as Walter Reuther, President of the United Auto Workers participated in the march. Rank and file union members were also part of the march.
Attempts to divide the American working class by race, religion, national origin and attacks against immigrants are old techniques used by profit-swollen corporations to prevent united struggles for social justice.
Read more.

Union-busters opt for different tactics in pushing “right to work” in Kentucky and Wisconsin

Union-busters in Kentucky and Wisconsin are traveling different paths to push “right to work.”

In the Bluegrass State, they’re backing county RTW ordinances while claiming their sole aim is promoting local economic development, not union-busting.

In the Dairy State, where the GOP-majority legislature just approved a RTW law, the union-busters are hawking RTW with old-fashioned labor-baiting.

At a Wisconsin legislative hearing, Greg Mourad, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee, took the gloves off.
He asked lawmakers to “Imagine leaving the [Capitol] today, ready to get some food when a cab pulls up. Two guys grab you, throw you into the back of the cab. The driver announces that the cab is on its way to Green Bay. You protest. But the other passengers don’t let you out. They pull over in Green Bay, the car stops, they untie you and demand $300.”

Mourad said such “is the way that unions in Wisconsin organize, and why the bill [which Republican Gov.… Read more.