Kentucky Becomes 27th Right-to-Work State

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

January 11, 2017

On January 9, Kentucky became the nation's 27th right-to-work state, making it illegal for workers to be required to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment. Governor Matt Bevin signed the legislation, which is effective immediately.

However, this does not apply to any agreement between an employer and employees or union entered into before January 7, 2017 that requires union membership or payment of dues.

With the measure, Kentucky becomes the last southern state to have a right-to-work law. The other right-to-work states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Business groups, including the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, contend that right-to-work laws promote economic growth. Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson said, "We are confident this will lead to more jobs and more opportunities for Kentuckians."

But the AFL-CIO and other labor groups have spoken out against these laws, claiming that employees living in right-to-work states are more likely to see lower wages and reduced health benefits than their counterparts elsewhere.