Right-to-work Republican inspires plans for big union rally in Kentucky featuring a former governor
Not surprisingly, union members booed and heckled a Republican candidate for the state legislature when he touted a right-to-work law at the annual Labor Day picnic in Paducah, Kentucky.
Emcee Larry Sanderson said the guy inspired him – “to organize an old-time revival of a union meeting. If what he said doesn’t fire us up, I don’t know what else would.”
A 68-year-old retired UA international representative, Sanderson has rented the city’s Carson Park horse race track grandstands for an October 11 rally. “We’re going to call it ‘Battleground Kentucky: Stand Up and Fight Back against the 2014 War on Labor,’” he said.
Meanwhile, the candidate, Randy Bridges, has boosted Sanderson’s ardor even more. Shortly after Labor Day, he appeared in a front-page Paducah Sun newspaper photo with pro-right to work House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover and other like-minded western Kentucky Republican legislators and hopefuls.
“I was so angry about Bridges coming into our house and saying what he said that I was awake half the night thinking about it,” Sanderson said. “It’s like somebody coming into your house and taking the food off your table."
The state senate has a right to work Republican majority. The GOP has made passage of a right to work law a top priority if they win the house November 4.
Gov. Steve Beshear would almost certainly veto a right to work bill. But in Kentucky, a veto can be overridden by a simple majority of both houses.
The Kentucky State AFL-CIO has endorsed Bridges’ opponent, State Rep. Gerald Watkins, D-Paducah. He followed Bridges to the microphone and was cheered loudly when he cited Communist China as an example of right to work territory.
“I was so angry about Bridges coming into our house and saying what he said that I was awake half the night thinking about it,” Sanderson said. “It’s like somebody coming into your house and taking the food off your table.
“Are you going to give him a to-go bag? Or are you going to do something about it?”
Sanderson got busy exercising the latter option.
He has already lined up state Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, as the rally’s featured speaker. A native of McCracken County, of which Paducah is the seat, Carroll was governor in 1975-79.
Carroll’s father, “Buster” Carroll, was a member of Paducah Operating Engineers Local 181, according to Sanderson, who was business manager of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 184 for many years.
“I want to get as many retired union people up on the stage as we can,” he added. “I want them to stand up. Then we can ask the crowd, ‘Do you want to lose everything these guys did for you? Are you going to be the generation that lost it all?’”
To generate publicity for the rally, Sanderson is having a union print shop in Paducah turn out fliers and hard-hat stickers. “I’ll take the fliers around to union halls and plant gates and parking lots myself if I have to, but I need help.”
Local 184 chipped in $500 and pledged helpers. The Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council voted $100 toward the rally and delegates promised to aid Sanderson.
“I want people to wear their hard hats to the rally, and their union tee-shirts. I want to fill those grandstands with union members, our families and our friends. Politicians who are our friends are welcome to come and be recognized.
[dc]"W[/dc]e welcome everybody to unite with us to repel the vicious attacks that are being planned against the working men and women of Kentucky.”
The Paducah rally is tentatively scheduled for noon to 2 p.m., local time. More information is available from Sanderson at (270) 564-1108. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.