After a four-year hiatus, the Danny Ross West Kentucky Building & Construction Trades Council Labor Luncheon is back in the pre-Fancy Farm picnic lineup.
The feed is set for 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 4 — the day before the state's biggest political event — at Paducah’s Walker Hall. The featured speaker will be Gov. Andy Beshear, the guy who got top billing as a candidate in 2019.
“We want Andy to be reelected and what better time to kick the luncheon back off than an election year?” said Larry Sanderson, a longtime luncheon organizer and veteran Paducah trade unionist who retired as a UA international representative for Tennessee and Kentucky in 2011.
Sanderson is having tickets printed. But admission is free. “People can come get a good lunch and hear the governor speak,” he said.
The Kentucky State AFL-CIO unanimously endorsed Beshear, a moderate Democrat, both times he tossed his hat in the ring.
He unseated far-right Republican Matt Bevin in 2019. Bevin had eagerly signed a “right to work” law and a measure to repeal the prevailing wage, and inked other anti-labor legislation passed by GOP-majority House and Senate supermajorities.
Beshear won a rare early — and unanimous — endorsement from the federation this year. Unions consider his ultra-conservative Republican opponent, Attorney Gen. Daniel Cameron, a union-buster in the Bevin mold.
In 2021, Cameron and 13 other 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, according to 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.”
Unions say Cameron would continue Bevin’s fiercely anti-labor agenda.
The luncheon was named for the late Danny Ross, a longtime state labor leader. “Danny was instrumental in making sure this event took place down here, and we thought it would be a nice idea to honor him.”
Sanderson said the COVID pandemic forced suspension of the annual luncheons after 2019. “We always had it the Friday before Fancy Farm every year.” The Fancy Farm picnic is held annually on the first Saturday in August in Fancy Farm, a small Graves County Catholic community.
This year will be the 143rd annual picnic, which features barbecue and stump speaking, both as spicy hot as the weather.
Sanderson also said the luncheon is designed in part “to let people know labor is still around. We were around before these legislators we have now were even born, and we’re going to be around after they’re gone. We are still a viable force in western Kentucky.”
More information is available from Sanderson by contacting him via email at email@example.com