Right to Work legislation championed by state House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover failed to win approval from a House committee Thursday.
The Kentucky Right to Work Act would have eliminated mandatory membership as a condition of employment. Advocates, including Rep. Adam Koenig, argued the measure would make Kentucky more competitive and attract new business and spur job creation in the Commonwealth.
"I'm interested in the people who don't have jobs being able to get one. I'm interested in the person who works in a factory, manufacturing company, or wherever who doesn't have any opportunities for advancement," Koenig said.
Retired UAW member Kirk Gillenwaters was one of a large crowd of union supporters who packed the committee chambers. He said Right to Work legislation has driven down pay and benefits in states throughout the South.
"They have paid the lowest wages over the years. At the same time, they've had the worst education. They have some of the worst healthcare programs in those states right there. We look at that as a race to the bottom," he argued.
While the bill ultimately failed by a vote of 4 to 15, Gillenwaters said fully expects the issue to return in future General Assembly sessions.
Kentucky is the only remaining state in the South that has not enacted Right to Work legislation.