FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Attorneys for Gov. Matt Bevin, addressing the Kentucky Supreme Court on Friday, defended the state's right to work law that has been credited with major job expansions.
That law, passed during the first week of the 2017 General Assembly, would allow employees to work at a union company without having to pay union fees and dues, which supporters said would encourage job growth and leave workers more take home pay.
Opponents, meanwhile, said the law would lead to lower wages.
Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate dismissed a lawsuit challenging the law. In that lawsuit, plaintiffs claimed it violated eight sections of the constitution. Both sides agreed to have the case move directly to the Supreme Court.
In his opening remarks, attorney Irwin Cutler, representing the unions and workers who filed the suit, called the law "an effort to destroy unions."
“Unions have provided a pathway to the middle class,” Cutler told the justices. “They did it organizing under the National Labor Relations Act since 1935, in order to represent all the workers.”
He also maintained the law passed as "special legislation" benefitting a few people while harming many others, which is banned by the Kentucky Constitution.
Chad Meredith, one of Gov. Matt Bevin’s attorneys, said it was't special legislation. In fact, he said, Kentucky has lots of laws that only affect doctors, lawyers and other professions.
Craig T. Bouchard, head of a company that's building a $1.5 billion aluminum mill in northeastern Kentucky, said passage fo the right to work law is what convinced him to move to Kentucky.
Braidy Industries broke ground on the mill two months ago.
"There are one and a half billion reasons to support the bill,” Bouchard said.
The justices gave no indication on when they might hand down a ruling.