The Kentucky county where General Motors builds Corvettes has become the first in the state to approve a right-to-work ordinance. Warren County, which is home to the city of Bowling Green, approved the controversial ordinance that allows workers to opt-out of union dues and membership and mandates union membership not be a requirement for employment, the Park City Daily News reported.
The ordinance, which passed 5-1, was approved on the first reading Friday, but will require an additional two readings to take effect. The next Fiscal Court meeting is scheduled for Dec. 19, the paper said. County officials anticipate the ordinance will see legal challenges if it is approved.
Right-to-work provisions currently exist in 24 U.S. states, but Kentucky is not one of them, and there is no legal precedent on whether counties have the power to enact the measures. The 1847 Taft-Hartley Act authorizes individual states to invoke right-to-work status, but not local governments. Spokeswoman Alison Martin said Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway will issue an opinion on the matter but when was unclear, the Associated Press reported.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., thought to be a likely 2016 presidential candidate, released a statement praising the measure.
"Local leaders will be able to attract and keep good quality jobs in the community while preserving the freedom to contract for employees and employers," Paul said.
Paul introduced the National Right to Work Act in the U.S. Senate in February 2013.
State Rep. Jim DeCesare, who represents Bowling Green in the Kentucky House of Representatives, said he expects other counties to follow suit.
Eldon Renaud, president of Bowling Green's United Auto Workers Local 2164, called the ordinance a bad deal for workers, arguing it would drive down wages in the county.
"It's just a way for right-wing people to try to exert their influence in another way by trying to lessen the impact of people who have the right to join a union," he told AP.