Two unions, Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Teamsters Local 89 [union websites] filed a class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Thursday against the state of Kentucky and the governor, claiming that Kentucky’s “right-to-work” bill [text] violates the state constitution. The plaintiffs claim [press release] that the bill, which allows workers to receive union benefits without paying dues, amounts to “a clear and unfair taking of union resources and dues money without any sort of compensation, which we [Teamsters Local 89] strongly believe is a violation of Kentucky’s Constitution.” Teamsters Local 89 referred to the bill as “an all-out assault on the hard-working men and women of Kentucky.” Kentucky State AFL-CIO’s lawyer, Irwin Cutler, said [press release] “Courts in other states have struck down virtually identical so-called right to work statutes because they force unions to provide many costly services to workers for free. No other state law requires any organization to give away its services, but under this law, Kentucky’s labor unions must do so.” Kentucky officials said [Reuters report] the lawsuit was “frivolous.”
The Kentucky House of Representatives passed [JURIST report] the right-to-work bill in January. Currently, 28 states have right-to-work laws [JURIST backgrounder]. The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in January 2016 on the First Amendment rights of public teachers who do not wish to pay union fees, leading to a plurality decision [JURIST reports].