Louisville, KY: Today, in a sixteen-page opinion, Judge Phillip J. Shepherd of the Franklin Circuit Court issued a Temporary Injunction against an Executive Order given by Governor Matt Bevin to replace sitting members of the Workers Compensation Nominating Commission (WCNC).
“It appears from the record before the Court at this time that the primary purpose and effect of the Executive Order is to implement a mass firing of Commissioners, rather than to accomplish a bona fide administrative re-organization.”
According to Teamsters Local 89 General Counsel Robert Colone who is Co-Counsel in this lawsuit, “Local 89 and other legal experts feared that Bevin’s Executive Order was intended to replace qualified members of the Commission with individuals that would support his anti-worker agenda through the judicial nomination process; thus dismantling decades of protections established through the administrative law system for injured workers.”
While the Governor often has broad discretion in making changes to existing Boards or Commissions using his reorganization power, Teamsters 89 questioned the validity of Governor Bevin’s actions in this instance and filed suit against him.
Colone added, “Although the restructuring of the WCNC is at the heart of this litigation, the constitutional questions evoked through this litigation, like ‘separation of powers’, are germane to more than just the WCNC case and have far greater implications for the Governor’s recent actions. It appears that many of the Governor’s recent executive orders could be challenged on similar grounds. It is time to find out exactly how much power the Governor has in that respect.”
At the core of this case is the question of whether the Governor has the power to remove members of Boards and Commissions who had been appointed to serve a specific term of years. The WCNC members removed by Bevin in his Executive Order were not yet at the end of their term.
Further, the Governor’s reorganization power is meant to allow him to make changes to the structure, administration, budget, and other facets of a Board or Commission, yet in this instance Governor Bevin changed absolutely nothing about the WCNC aside from the members that make it up. As Judge Shepherd suggested during a recent hearing, the Governor’s Executive Order was like a “neutron bomb” because "it destroyed all the people but left the structure in place.”
Local 89, along with the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, is proud to be involved in this very important constitutional case.