Court Strikes Blow for Local Right-to-Work

Posted by Olivia Grady on Friday, November 18th, 2016 at 3:57 pm - Permalink

Sixth Circuit upholds Kentucky county RTW ordinance

For Immediate Release:

November 18, 2016

Washington, DC - On November 18th, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of Hardin County Kentucky’s local right-to-work ordinance.

Hardin was one of a dozen Kentucky counties which passed right-to-work ordinances from December 2014 to May 2015. Right-to-work laws allow workers to opt out of union membership and dues.

The counties contended that Kentucky’s home rule statute, which devolves considerable leeway to local authorities to pass economic development measures, allowed for right-to-work ordinances in absence of state law expressly forbidding them. The counties were supported in their efforts by a broad coalition of business groups, activist organizations and elected officials including Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, the Bluegrass Institute, Americans for Prosperity, local and regional Chambers of Commerce, Protect my Check and the Center for Worker Freedom. 

Organized labor, led by the United Auto Workers union, sued in federal court to stop the local right-to-work movement, claiming the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) precluded localities from adopting such measures. On February 3, 2016, a district court judge sided with the unions; the case was immediately appealed to the Sixth Circuit, which encompasses Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan.

The appeals court ruling reversing the district court’s decision is a landmark precedent in labor relations and a significant blow for worker freedom said Matt Patterson, Executive Director of the Center for Worker Freedom.

“We congratulate the county officials in Kentucky who worked so hard and risked so much to expand the liberty and prosperity for their communities,” said Patterson in a statement. “And we congratulate all our coalition allies who defied the naysayers on both sides of the aisle and took up this very important fight.”

Patterson said this opens up opportunities for counties and towns to take matters into their own hands when their state legislatures fail to act on behalf of worker freedom.

Read the full Sixth Circuit decision here.



Olivia Grady


Pictured: A May 2015 Center for Worker Freedom organized town hall in Bowling Green, Kentucky explaining the benefits of right-to-work