The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is taking a firmer stand on conservative issues. Republican legislators have criticized the chamber in the past for supporting Democratic-led proposals like expanded gambling and a higher dropout age while staying quiet on so-called right to work and prevailing wage laws.
But in the chamber's latest annual report, right to work and other conservative issues are more prominent. Such legislation has caused lengthy political battles in other states, recently in Indiana. “It’s an emotional thing on both sides, but I am convinced that Kentucky is losing thousands of jobs each year because we are not a right to work state,” says Chamber President Dave Adkisson. Labor groups call the proposal "right to work for less" because the law removes requirements that employees join a union as a basis for employment. The unions says it weakens collective bargaining and harms workers who don't band together. But Adkisson says the law is essential to keep Kentucky competitive. “I hear it more in Bowling Green, Owensboro, Paducah, Hopkinsville, those area, especially the ones that have to compete with Tennessee on a day to day. You can see all the states to the south, which is really where our competition is, are right to work states,” he says. The chamber also says it believes raising the dropout age to 18 and enacting a statewide smoking ban will help create and attract jobs.