The Kentucky GOP promised to put the Bluegrass State in the “right to work” column, if they flipped the Democratic-majority state House of Representatives. A slew of GOP radio, TV, and print ads touted the right to work law with claims that the measure would lead to thousands of good jobs in Kentucky.
Paducah Plumbers and Steamfitters (UA) Local 184 challenged the Republicans on their own turf, the anti-union newspaper Paducah Sun, by taking out a full-page ad in the paper debunking Republican claims about right to work.
In the end, the GOP came up short. Democrats in Kentucky held onto their seats and Kentucky will remain the only non-right to work state in the South. State Representative Gerald Watkins of Paducah was one of the victorious labor-endorsed Democrats. “The ad was great and strong union support really helped me,” says Watkins, who was among those targeted by the GOP for defeat.
A relieved Jeff Wiggins, president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council and United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9447, says he feared a Republican majority legislature wouldn’t have stopped with a right to work law. “They would have repealed our prevailing wage law, too,” he says. “We’d have ended up working for less money, and our workplaces would have become less safe. The Republicans would have turned back the clock to the time of no unions and the company store.”