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Right to Work a Crap Shoot

Apologies for a letter rather than personal appearance before the Fiscal Court. A prior engagement in Arkansas prohibits my attendance.

I object to the "Right to Work" Ordinance. The very title is an oxymoron that conceals the real intent of expanded employer's control over employees, i.e. to better be able to stand on the necks of workers.

The guidance of KRS 67.077,( Proposed Ordinances), requiring readings on separate days and that a copy of the proposal must be available for public viewing has been met in the legal sense,but not intent. The intent for the people of Fulton County to participate when major policy changes are proposed has been subverted. The posting of a single document in the Judge Executive's office deters participation because many fear they will be singled out for unsavory scrutiny or even reprisal should they dare to give the appearance of defying governmental power. Secondly, the tight schedule between the 1st reading and the second reading over Christmas has the appearance of a Washington trick to slip something by the people. Third, a rush to passage right before the out going Chief Magistrate leaves office raises eyebrows and makes the integrity of the Court suspect to many. Given the immensity
of the change and possible unforeseen negative consequences of this Ordinance, it would seem that inviting citizen participation in a decision to implement these changes by publishing the draft ordinance in both county newspapers would be in order and not cost prohibitive. A comment period for the workers who may be affected seems in order. A couple of months delay surely would not kill the goose if it really has merit.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data on Fulton County depicts 202 employers, a number not significantly changed since 2004. The weekly average pay for those employees covered by BLS was $669. 00 per employee for 2014. The historical data shows a 20% decline in Fulton County
employees from 2004 to 2014. This decline is in keeping with Census estimates that show a steadily declining population. Three of the four "River Counties" experienced similar declines. The exception in wages is Ballard County, a county with the highest number of union members. BLS reports Ballard's l51 Quarter, 2014, with over $1100.00 average weekly wages.

The newspaper reference to an article by Jim Waters, operative of the Bluegrass Institute)'on counties enacting "right to work" is simply a red herring. It omits that the Institute's Board of Directors is chocked full of bankers and other money folks. This is a blood brother to ALEC, backed by the Koch Brothers and the anti-union Americans for Prosperity, and Grover Norquist, a political move to defang union impact in National Elections. There is another version of the impacts:

Economic Policy Institute (EPI) " Evidence shows "Right to Work" legislation has no statistically significant impact whatsoever on job growth."

Lonnie Stuass, Hofstra University, " Right to Work" laws result in little or no gain in
employment and economic growth."

( C ) EPI: " Right to Work" laws are associated with significantly lower wages and reduced chances of receiving employee-sponsored health insurance and pensions."

( D ) McLatchy : " Numerous studies have found that wages for both union and non -union workers are lower in states with "Right to Work" laws."

( E ) Center for Media and Democracy : "Attack on working people------ limits the rights of firefighters, police, teachers, and other public workers"

Kentucky non-farm minimum wage is $7.25, the same as the Federal. This is $15,080.00 for 40 hours a week times 52 weeks. $15,080. is hardly enough to support a single parent with one child.

"Right to Work" is a concept of the far right politicians. One who supports " Right to Work" should be willing to look our high school seniors in the eyes and tell them that if they want to live in Fulton County, they had best be schooled in a field that requires a license ( Doctor, lawyer, plumber, electrician,etc.) or be willing to accept a minimum wage job for the rest of their lives in the county.

If this right to work ordinance is passed it will guarantee serfdom for our people. It will fall on its face as I fully expect it will by letting wage earners down, they will simply move away.

The closing of the hospital means the loss of some really good paying jobs. The greatest impact of this loss will be felt strongly and negatively in recruiting efforts to bring in new jobs. Walmart, infamous for having a handful of employees enjoying full benefits and the remainder working less than full time in order to negate the laws requiring decent benefits, will move up in the County number rating of all employees; and will have their position reinforced as "Poster Boy'' for all that is bad in how to treat employees reinforced by "Right to Work."

Employers have come and gone in the County. Changing market demands and in a few cases a well intended but inappropriate business plan have led the reasons for closure. In spite of some rapid in­ and-out businesses, the lack of a "Right to Work" Ordinance does not seem to have deterred success in getting new employers to move to the County. Those prospective employers/businesses who state they do not want to come because of the lack "right to work" protections are the very ones we wish would go somewhere else. Businesses expecting a "permit" to hold employees in perpetual poverty should each and every one be rejected because WE RECOGNIZE OUR RESPONSIBILITY LIES WITH THE CITIZENS OF FULTON COUNTY NOT CORPORATE PROFITS.

Federal law guarantees one can't be forced to join unions. "Closed" or union only shops have been outlawed for over half a century.

Local and regional media outlets are owned and operated by Republicans so it should be no surprise to see them praising a Republican initiative. Democrats cannot be homswogglled that easy, especially those who are Democrats voted into office by fellow Democrats.

As I see it, "Right to Work" is at best a crap shoot, a solution looking for a problem. The bet will not be paid by members of the Fulton County Fiscal Court, it will be paid for by under paid workers forever. Walk rather than run when the stakes involve possible ruin for the future of Fulton County.

Gene Nettles---
P.S. The Kentucky Attorney General has released an official AG Opinion that similar county Right to Work Ordinances are in violation of our State Laws.(They appear to have the same author.)

Editor's Note: Fulton County resident Gene Nettles sent this letter to Fulton County magistrates before the second reading of the Right to Work ordinance.

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