[dc]"W[/dc]e're just getting started," was Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's campaign slogan. A big labor vote helped make the union-busting, Trump-hugging Republican a one-termer.
"I want to thank everybody for what they did—knocking on doors, making calls, doing the mailings—it all matters," said Jeff Wiggins, Kentucky State AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer. "Anything that you do matters."
Bevin was one of the most—if not the most—anti-labor governors in Bluegrass State history. Next Wednesday, governor-elect Andy Beshear, a pro-union Democrat, will raise his right hand and swear on the Good Book that he's never fought a duel. (Kentucky is evidently the only state with an anti-dueling provision in the oath elected officials must swear.)
In stark contrast to Bevin's swearing in nearly four years ago, union members will be welcome at the Beshear ceremony.
In stark contrast to Bevin's swearing in nearly four years ago, union members will be welcome at the Beshear ceremony. "We know that with Andy Beshear, working families have a strong ally," saidKentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan on election night.
We do indeed.
When Bevin was elected on a pro-"right to work" and anti-prevailing wage platform in 2015, the House still had a pro-union Democratic majority. (Kentucky was the only non-"right to work" Southern state.) So he had to content himself with packing the labor cabinet with union-haters and turning it into the anti-labor labor cabinet.
After the Republicans flipped the House in 2016, Bevin had the reinforcements he needed for waging holy war against unions. Bevin saw himself as Kentucky's version of Scott Walker, Wisconsin's union-despising GOP governor.
Egged on by Bevin, the GOP-super-majority House and Senate united—with precious few exceptions—to pass RTW and repeal PW.
In the 2018 and 2019 sessions of the legislature, the governor and his allies went after the state workers compensation, unemployment insurance and OSH programs. They figured to finish gutting the programs in a second Bevin term.
Anti-union Republicans will still rule the roost in General Assembly when Beshear is sworn in. Getting him additional labor-friendly help in the House and Senate will be a big priority next November.
Meanwhile, Beshear has promised to help us. He pledged to make a union member his labor secretary. The governor-elect tapped more union members—including Londrigan—for his transition team than any governor in recent history—maybe ever.
Beshear and Lt. Gov.-elect Jacqueline Coleman invited union members to join the inauguration festivities, including marching in the big parade.
No group worked harder to elevate Beshear from attorney general governor than organized labor.
"Thank you to each of you and your memberships for all your financial help, get-out-the-vote efforts and reminding our members that their voices will be heard," said transition team member Bill Finn, state director of the Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council.
"When the sun comes up on Kentucky tomorrow it will shine on working families who will take pride in what we have done, together, to put our state on the path to a stronger future," Londrigan also saidshortly after Beshear won. "....Tonight, we celebrate, because tomorrow we get back to work. When the sun sets tomorrow there will still be important things for us to tackle."
There is indeed plenty of work to do and much to tackle. Happy days aren't quite here again.
"With Republican super-majorities in Kentucky’s House and Senate, our fights will continue," Finn also said. "But now we will have a governor in office who will look out for Kentucky workers' families."
Who knows—or cares—where Bevin's headed next? Maybe Washington? Trump stumped for him in Kentucky; so did VP Pence.
Maybe he'll hightail it for his native New England and a family business. East Hampton, Mass., is home to the Bevin Brothers bell factory.
It might be just a rumor. But I hear the company has a special program for hiring has-been politicians.
I also hear the hours are long, the pay low and the jobs non-union. If that's true, Bevin should be in hog heaven because that's the kind of employment he wanted for his old Kentucky constituents.