SWEDA notes ‘right to work’ preference with companies

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By Brandon Mattingly

At its regular meeting last month, the Springfield-Washington County Economic Development Authority discussed ways of bringing new businesses to the county, including the official hiring of Daniel Carney as its executive director.

Carney, who took the position and began work on April 8, will earn $45,000 annually with benefits that include insurance, retirement, a cell phone plan and vacation.

The board also discussed economic activity across the commonwealth and agreed that it is apparent that “right to work” is a strategy that companies looking to for new locations are strongly considering.

Right-to-work states, unlike Kentucky, have laws that prohibit unions from requiring workers at a place of business to pay union dues.

Unions, by law, must represent all workers at a business, whether they’re union or not, and although federal law prohibits mandatory union membership,in states that do not have right to work laws, unions can enter into a collective agreement with employers to require that all workers pay dues to support the union’s collective bargaining activities on their behalf even if they’re not union members. Right-to-work laws allow states to prevent businesses and unions from entering into an agreement requiring anyone — union members or not — to have to pay union dues. Dues, as well as membership, would be entirely voluntary.

Unions claim that right-to-work laws lower wages, benefits and employee rights. Business interests say right-to-work laws improve economic growth by attracting prospective employers that avoid locating in states where unions are stronger.

It was noted in discussions that included Nicky Rapier, vice president of community and economic development at Salt River Electric, that businesses are showing a preference for moving to an existing location to avoid construction and start-up time and cost.

The trend could potentially lead to more renovations of existing buildings around Springfield and the rest of Washington County.

The board also awarded Mattingly Brothers Farm with a three-year contract extension through 2016.

All board members were present.