Teachers, retired teachers and their supporters were front row at the 2019 Danny Ross Labor Luncheon
The brothers in organized labor met their sisters in KEA, the un-union, at the Labor Luncheon in Paducah on Friday, August 2nd. It may be the first time ever that teachers, retired educators and their supporters filled almost half the tables in Walker Hall. The numbers of educators attending rivaled union members. Educators have attended in the past, but this is the first time their attendance was front, center and vocal.
In 2019, brothers and sisters found common ground in their goal of making Matt Bevin a one term governor.
The only speakers at the luncheon (which because people had to get back to work was held under an hour) were labor officials and Democratic office seekers. Speeches were short, sweet and full of the usual friendly crowd Democratic rhetoric.
In addition to honoring one of their own, Danny Ross, by renaming the event after him, union members, gathered to talk politics around the front of the hall - as far from the speaker's podium as possible. The talk among construction workers is that they've seen significant reductions in their paydays since prevailing wage ended. Hiring union firms is not the first choice of government contract managers.
At left, candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture Robert Conway addresses the labor luncheon. That's a framed photo of Danny Ross below the podium.
Kyle Henderson, newest president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, managed to keep the buzz in the back of the room down to a low roar long enough for the program to be heard past the second row of tables. That feat alone speaks to his being a rising star in the union and local politics.
The slate of Democrats brought out the material they would be using the next day at Fancy Farm. Attorney General Andy Beshear touted his support of organized labor, his disdain for right to work and repeal of prevailing wage.
His introduction of his educator running mate, Jacqueline Coleman, brought teachers to their feet.
Coleman, shown at left, proved to be a poised public speaker, using her sports experience in a speech that went over well with this crowd.
Whether teachers can stay mad at Bevin until November is an open question. In previous elections, teacher discontent dissipated as school swung back into session. Democratic candidates who depended on a wave of educators have been as disappointing as a Charlie Brown football kicking practice. Democrats can only hope that with retirees swelling their ranks and Governor Bevin going out of his way to alienate them, there is a chance teachers will "remember in November" and vote blue.
A similar situation exists with the unions. Leadership may think kindly of the Democrats. But rank and file vote on issues that are not job related. The percentages of blue collar, high school educated males voting for Republican candidates remains among the most reliable votes for the Grand Old Party. Labor retirees spend more time watching Fox News and listening to right leaning commentators. Swaying them may be digging for pyrite, aka fool's gold.