Kentucky Unions laws & HR compliance analysis

Kentucky Unions: What you need to know

The right of workers in private employment to form unions and bargain collectively with their employers is guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and related federal laws. The NLRA is preemptive, meaning that it supersedes state law in the areas that it covers. However, in areas not covered by the NLRA, such as the rights of public employees and the rights of private employees who are not engaged in interstate commerce, the states are free to make their own provisions. The NLRA is the governing law for private employees engaged in interstate commerce.
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All workers have the right under Kentucky law to join labor unions and bargain collectively. Private employees have the right to strike, engage in peaceful picketing, and assemble collectively for peaceful purposes. Public employees, however, are prohibited from striking. The law does not impose any duty on employers to bargain with workers, however, nor does it prescribe a penalty for violators. However, a separate Kentucky law provides that a person injured by the violation of any statute may recover from the offender such damages sustained as a result of the violation, even if a penalty is imposed for such violation (KY Rev. Stat. Sec. 446.070). At least one court has relied on this law to affirm an award of punitive damages against an employer that terminated 10 employees because of their union activities (Simpson County Steeplechase Ass'n v. Roberts, 898 S.W.2d 523 (KY Ct. App. 1995)).
Firefighters. The collective bargaining rights of firefighters are covered under a separate law (KY Rev. Stat. Sec. 345.010 et seq.). Firefighters may not strike (KY Rev. Stat. Sec. 345.130).
County police. Police have the right to ...

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