NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 17, 2006

Kentucky is the only southern state that forces people to join and pay dues to a union if one is present, sending the signal that Kentucky is not a job-friendly commonwealth. This leads many workers and corporations to skip over Kentucky and move to an employee-choice state, like Tennessee, says Henderson, says Jim Henderson, judge-executive of Simpson County, Kentucky.

This issue especially hinders efforts in bordering Simpson County. According to a national study:

  • Manufacturing employment increases 30 to 40 percent when crossing the border from a non-employee choice state into an employee-choice state.
  • Conversely, manufacturing employment declined by one-third when moving from an employee-choice state to a non-employee choice state.
  • In 1969, Kentucky and Tennessee were neck-and-neck in a race to the bottom of all states in per capita disposable income; today, Tennessee has climbed to 31st while Kentucky ranks 45th.


  • Kentucky recently lost the opportunity to have a Massachusetts company relocate in Simpson County; instead, it moved to Tennessee citing employee choice as a factor in its decision.
  • When Colgate announced plans to close its historic plant in Indiana, just across the river from Louisville, it decided to skip over Kentucky and settle in Tennessee as well.

By giving employees a choice about whether they want to join and pay dues to a union, Kentucky would take itself off the economic development "No Call" list, thus removing any competitive disadvantage, says Henderson.

Source: Jim Henderson, "Employee choice would send strong signal for economic development," Bluegrass Institute, February 28, 2006.


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