Kentucky county passes ordinance that hits at power of unions

By Steve Bittenbender

By Steve Bittenbender LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) - Warren County, Kentucky passed a right-to-work ordinance on Friday, making the fifth most-populous county the first in the state to pass legislation prohibiting unions from requiring members to pay dues in exchange for representation. The ordinance, which lawmakers passed by a 6-1 vote, will face a legal challenge by unions, whose leaders said the law is designed to undercut their ability to bargain effectively for workers. "What we're against is people benefiting from the union and not having to pay the cost," said Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO. Supporters of the ordinance say it will help spur economic development in the county, about 100 miles south of Louisville that is home to a General Motors plant manufacturing Chevrolet Corvettes. The United Automobile Workers' deal with General Motors, the parent company of Chevrolet, expires next year. The local chapter represents about 800 employees, said the local's president, Eldon Renaud. Business groups have tried to pass similar legislation in Kentucky's General Assembly for more than a decade, but have not been able to get it through the Democratic-controlled House. Now, a county-by-county approach is in the works. Neighboring Simpson County, on the Tennessee border, and Fulton County in the far southwestern corner of Kentucky also have passed initial readings of similar proposals. Both counties will likely pass the law by the end of the month. (Editing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Diane Craft)