FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear signed an executive
order Monday setting up an advisory panel for state employees to
discuss their job concerns with his administration.
Beshear said the move does not give state employees collective
bargaining rights, but gives them a greater voice. Employees may,
however, join labor unions and be represented by them in talks with
the state, Beshear said.
"Fair and equitable treatment of all employees is essential to
the effective operation of government," Beshear said at a press
conference announcing the move.
Beshear, a Democrat who was elected governor in November, also
re-established the state Labor Cabinet and restored specific
protections that prohibit discrimination against state employees
who are gay or transgendered.
Former Gov. Ernie Fletcher, Beshear's Republican predecessor,
abolished the Governor's Employee Advisory Council, dropped the
Labor Cabinet to a department within a larger state agency and
stripped the protections for gay and transgendered employees.
Beshear says state employees do not have to join or pay dues to
unions and they are prohibited from striking.
State employees are prohibited by state law from collective
bargaining, Beshear said. Nevertheless, opening lines of
communication can give state employees a voice in their wages,
hours and other aspects of their jobs, Beshear said.
"While this is certainly not a perfect situation, it does give
public employees another avenue to communicate with the governor,"
Beshear said. "And I think that's always good."
Maurice "Mo" Davison, director for the United Auto Workers
Region 3, said his group had worked toward organizing some of
Kentucky's state government workers before the advisory council was
"People just want a voice in the workplace," Davison said.
Christina Gilgor, executive director of the Kentucky Fairness
Alliance, said in a statement she was thrilled by Beshear's move.
"It's another fine example of the critical role individual
states play in advancing justice for all Americans," Gilgor said.
"Kentucky's fair-minded majority has a reason to celebrate."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)