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Judge Hears Arguments on Challenge to Hardin County's Right-to-Work Law

A federal judge in Louisville heard arguments Tuesday on whether local governments in Kentucky can pass laws forbidding requirements on workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Earlier this year, a group of labor unions sued Hardin County after magistrates approved what's known as a right-to-work law.

In the courtroom was Bill Londrigan, head of the Kentucky AFL-CIO. He said right-to-work laws cripple unions.

"Right to work laws lead to lower wages for workers across the board, and we feel that is very poor public policy to be promoting laws or statutes that undermine workers' ability to have a good wage and good standard of living," Londrigan told WKU Public Radio.

Jim Waters of the Bluegrass Institute was also present at the hearing. The Bluegrass Institute has encouraged counties to pass local right-to-work laws.

"The opponents want to say that doing this will create confusion and mass problems, while we know what will happen is it will give individual workers more freedom over whether they join a union and pay dues or not," Waters commented.

Twelve Kentucky counties have approved local right-to-work ordinances. Others are waiting to see how the court case is settled.

Right-to-work has been a major issue for state Republicans.

U.S. District Judge David Hale is expected to issue a ruling this fall, and appeals are expected.

Lisa Autry

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