Pro Act would undermine state right-to-work laws
FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 8, 2021) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron today joined a 14-state coalition of attorneys general in sending a letter to U.S. Senate leadership opposing a bill that requires workers to join unions. The “Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021,” or “PRO Act,” would negate state right-to-work laws and require workers to pay union dues in order to keep their jobs.
“The Commonwealth has already made it clear where we stand on this issue by passing a Right-to-Work law in 2017, and our letter opposes the PRO Act because it would undermine this important law and the will of Kentuckians,” said Attorney General Cameron. “It’s my job to defend our laws as they are passed by the General Assembly, and to push back against federal legislation that would harm Kentucky workers.”
The attorneys general assert that the PRO Act undermines the Right-to-Work laws passed by 27 states, including Kentucky. The coalition also notes in the letter that they are responsible for upholding the laws in their states, including laws that guard the freedom of employees to keep their jobs regardless of whether they pay union dues.
One section of the PRO Act condones union contracts that would force employees to pay union fees “as a condition of employment.” The Attorneys General write that, “forcing someone to be a member of a union against their will and then confiscating their pay for the gain of union leadership is the antithesis of the democratic principles on which this country was founded.”
The letter from the attorneys general also points out that unions have long fought Right-to-Work laws, but the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected arguments that tried to overturn them. For example, in a 1949 case, Lincoln Federal Labor Union No. 19129 v. Northwestern Iron & Metal Co, a union claimed that Right-to-Work laws were unconstitutional, arguing that the right to assemble gave the union the right to require workers to participate in union assemblies or lose their jobs. The Supreme Court quickly ruled against the union and in favor of Right-to-Work laws.
Kentucky’s Right-to-Work law, passed in 2017 by the General Assembly, was upheld by the Kentucky Supreme Court in 2018, after facing a challenge from the Kentucky AFL-CIO and other unions.
Attorney General Cameron joins South Carolina and the attorneys general of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia in sending the letter.
You can read the letter here.