Attorney Gen. Daniel Cameron, the hard-right MAGA Republican who wants moderate Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s job, says he loves free enterprise.
Cameron means union-free.
So naturally, he picked a bare-knucks union-buster for his running mate: state Sen. Robby Mills of Henderson.
“He’s probably worse than Cameron,” said Jeff Wiggins, a member of United Steelworkers Local 9447 and Kentucky State AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer.
Two of Mills’s constituents agree. Like Wiggins, USW Local 9443 member Kevin Walton of Hanson and Henderson resident John Coomes, who packs a Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 136 card, recall when Mills, then a state representative, hopped on GOP Gov. Matt Bevin’s screw-the-unions bandwagon.
Mills cheerily voted for Bevin’s so-called “right to work” law and his measure repealing the prevailing wage. Bottom line: if a bill is anti-labor, you can bet Mills is all in for it. Make that an anti-public education bill, too. More on that in a minute.
“He’s not good for labor,” added Walton, a member of the state AFL-CIO Executive Board.
The state AFL-CIO endorsed the Beshear-Jacqueline Coleman team for reelection. The state federation backed the Democratic duo when they unseated the tea party-tilting Bevin and Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton four years ago.
But Coomes, who is also on the state executive board for the union, stressed that union endorsements are based on a candidate’s support for union issues, not party labels.
He acknowledged that most pro-union candidates are Democrats. Even so, he pointed out that the state’s largest labor group has endorsed pro-union Republicans.
Anyway, Mills and all but a handful of GOP representatives and senators voted for RTW and for axing PW. House and Senate Democrats united against RTW. All but one Democrat voted against dumping the prevailing wage.
Unions warn that the Cameron-Mills combo amounts to Bevin II, the sequel. (In 2019, Bevin dropped Hampton for state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, who also supported RTW and nixing the prevailing wage.)
Few Republican lawmakers were more gung-ho for Bevin’s whole ultra-conservative agenda than Mills.
“Robby Mills praised Matt Bevin’s plan to slash pensions for teachers, firefighters, and police, calling it ‘responsible’ – and then he led the charge for a special session to repass the bill after it was struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court,” said Colmon Elridge, Kentucky Democratic Party chair.
Elridge wondered if Mills was sorry for “playing such a prominent role in trying to attack workers’ pensions, even after the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Matt Bevin’s sewer bill?”
He might feel at least a pang of regret when hogs fly and kids stop shooting hoops in Kentucky. Nah, not even then.
Meanwhile, in this year’s session of the General Assembly, Mills sponsored Senate Bill 7 which forbids public employee unions from collecting dues through payroll deductions. (Beshear vetoed the measure, but House and Senate GOP supermajorities easily overrode him. A Louisville judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect.)
SB 7 was mostly aimed at the Kentucky Education Association. After gunning for unions, Bevin and GOP lawmakers took aim at public schools and teachers.
Kentuckians can expect more of the same anti-worker and anti-public education attacks from the Cameron-Mills ticket, according to KDP spokesperson Anna Breedlove. “If we didn’t already know how Daniel Cameron’s agenda would hurt our public schools and Kentucky teachers, his choice of running mate says it all,” she said. “Robby Mills voted to give himself a raise instead of teachers, supported diverting resources into unaccountable private schools, helped lead the charge to cut pensions for educators, and carried the bill that makes it harder for educators to negotiate for better working conditions. This ticket would be a disaster for our kids – and for public education in Kentucky.”
Cameron is also an unabashed union-hater in the Mills mold. He and 13 other anti-labor Republican attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Senate opposing the “Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021,” or PRO Act. Strongly backed by organized labor, the PRO Act, said the AFL-CIO, “will empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize and negotiate for better wages and working conditions. It will remove archaic barriers to organizing, increase worker protections, and strengthen the institutions that hold corporations accountable. It will repeal the ‘right to work’ laws that lead to lower wages, fewer benefits, and more dangerous workplaces.”
Mills’s 2017 support for RTW and for wiping PW off the law books earned him a spot on USW District 8’s “Wall of Shame” banner. (Alvarado is also on the banner.) Maybe there’s room for Cameron on the banner, too.