In March 2018, KY120 United organized to support educators, state workers, and the families and communities we serve in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties. We had grown tired of watching barely-disguised school voucher programs attempt to siphon public funding from public education. We had grown weary of seeing constant schemes to privatize essential public services. We had grown sick of accepting inadequate compromises in our fight for fair compensation and secure retirement benefits.
When the “Red for Ed” movement emerged across the nation, we were on the front lines working to get the resources for the schools and services that Kentucky children and their families need and deserve. We fought against the so-called “Sewer Bill” in 2018 that would have drastically altered teacher pensions and destroyed retirement security for Kentucky educators. That battle was ultimately won when the state Supreme Court struck down this misguided legislative bait and switch.
Since KY120 United was formed, our mission has included advocacy for rational and fair public policies—and we have mobilized to elect public officials who share our values and our goal of making Kentucky a place where all children and all families have an opportunity to thrive.
When we came together—as teachers, public service workers, and parents—we were frustrated. It sometimes seemed no one was listening. But we decided we would not just agonize over our situation. We would organize to change it.
While we were fighting the General Assembly in Frankfort for education policy, our fellow public employees had no organized state-level group to advocate for ending the destruction of essential public services. Likewise, our friends who work for Kentucky’s colleges and universities had no one advocating on their behalf. We understand that an attack on one is an attack on all of Kentucky’s public employees.
As a result, KY120 United has become an important voice in state and local policy debates. We are actively involved in the legislative process in Frankfort—working to shape proposals and to block damaging legislation during each session of the General Assembly. And we marshal support for legislation that advances public education and quality public services. We also support candidates who share our goals. In 2019, we worked hard for the election of Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman.
In General Assembly elections, we endorse candidates who back key elements of our legislative agenda. And we work on the local level with school officials and other leaders. Now we are working to build our membership and expand our role advocating for sensible public policy.
When Kentucky educators and the families we serve are ready to fight against the barriers that are blocking progress, they can count on KY120 United standing with them for what is fair and just. We will never pull our punches in the fight to open the pathways to success for all Kentuckians.
Had enough? It’s time to fight back.
Tired of hearing elected officials tell you that you should stay out of debates over policies that affect your profession?
Upset when a politician tells you politics works better without citizen participation?
Frustrated when legislators claim to support public employees, yet those employees are never given pay raises?
Upset that some elected officials keep coming up with schemes that will drain already inadequate funding from our public schools so taxpayer dollars can be diverted to support private schools?
Angry that Kentucky retirees constantly have to worry about the funding of their retiree health insurance?
We are too.
That’s why we formed KY120 United. We support public school employees, state workers, and the families and communities we serve in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
We wanted to be heard, but it seemed no one was listening. So we joined together to build power and amplify our voices.
Since we started in March 2018, we have become one of Kentucky’s leading advocates for public education. We are active in the General Assembly, fighting for legislation that benefits all students, educators, and public employees, while fighting against misguided policies. We push for accountability and transparency—elected officials must conduct the public’s business in public.
And we’re not afraid to raise our voices, if that’s what it takes to get officials to pay attention. We are tired of compromises in which we are the only ones making concessions.
The past year has been one of the most tragic in American history. And many challenges remain to be faced as we begin to envision an end to the pandemic and a return to more normal times. This is a time that demands ongoing vigilance and greater engagement by all of us.
KY120 United is renewing our commitment to organize for change, rather than agonize over the status quo. We are partnering with the American Federation of Teachers for a groundbreaking organizing campaign. We believe mobilizing under the AFT banner affords us the best of both worlds—our own experience and success with grassroots activism here in Kentucky, and the expertise and national stature of a union of professionals who share our values and commitment to worker empowerment through collective voice. By joining with AFT, we also become part of the national AFL-CIO union.
Right now, the AFT is helping us launch this KY120 United-AFT website, which will be the headquarters for this organizing effort. In the coming days and weeks, we anticipate regular updates and new information will be posted as the campaign moves forward.
Teachers, school staff, public employees, university personnel, and retirees from across the state are welcome to join us—and we hope you will take that step. By doing so, you will become an at-large, associate member of the AFT. Membership gives us the organizational support that has made the AFT central to the professional lives of more than 1.7 million members across the nation.
If you want to be part of the fight against the barriers blocking progress in Kentucky, now is the time to join with KY120 United-AFT and stand together for what is fair and just.
Our legislative agenda offers a partial summary of what we stand for:
Fully funding all state pension programs as required by actuarial projections.
Fully funding public education, including: all-day kindergarten and universal pre-k, textbooks, professional development, KTIP, and transportation.
Rejecting school vouchers, scholarship tax credits, or anything resembling them.
Providing adequate personal protective equipment for all school staff as long as COVID-19 remains a threat.
Funding for higher education.
Raising pay for classified employees statewide.
Protecting insurance for Kentucky public retirees.
Protecting and enhancing community mental health services.
Protecting and enhancing local health departments.
Preventing the slashing of essential community services such as Unemployment Insurance Offices and others that protect the most vulnerable Kentuckians.
In addition to our advocacy in Frankfort, we also work to elect public officials who share our values and our goal of making Kentucky a place where all children and all families have a chance to thrive.
If you believe, as we do, that we can make Kentucky a better place to live and work, now is the time to join with us in the fight against barriers that are blocking progress.