Workers' Rights Task Force 

The next meeting of the Workers' Rights Task Force will be held: 

Date: Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Time: 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET
Place: Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, 1640 Lyndon Farm Court, #100
Louisville, Kentucky 40223

To sign up for this event, please email Miranda Brown at

Workers' Rights Task Force

The statewide legal services Workers' Rights Task Force will meet on:

Date: Thursday, May 21, 2020
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET / 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. CT

Register in advance: virtual meeting via Zoom

For more info:


May 21, 2020

10:30 am     Welcome and Setting the Stage

10:35 am     Together Lawyers Can

Ben Carter of Kentucky Equal Justice Center will introduce Together Lawyers Can, a recruitment effort for volunteer attorneys for the expected increase in Unemployment Insurance hearings due to the pandemic.

10:40 am     Unemployment Insurance

Dustin Pugel of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy will describe key CARES Act and other new provisions on UI. Using KCEP’s interactive “Economic Fallout” tracking webpage, Dustin will give an update on UI claims in Kentucky and symptoms of problem areas in Kentucky claims processing. Cindy Millay of Legal Aid of the Bluegrass will discuss potential issues with claim denials.

11:00 am     Immigrant Worker Issues During COVID-19

Gretchen Hunt of the Backside Learning Center will share issues that have come up with BLC clients who are immigrant workers and will kick off group discussion of these issues, including worker safety, immigrant eligibility for benefits like Unemployment Insurance, and others.

11:20 am     Grocery and Meatpacking Workers

Caitlin Blair of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 227 will speak on issues facing grocery and meatpacking workers.

11:30 am     Worker Safety During COVID-19

Debbie Berkowitz of the National Employment Law Project will describe how OSHA is failing to set and enforce federal standards, kinds of protections needed in workplaces, and hot spots for industry and why. She will highlight how Kentucky OSH could enforce Governor Beshear’s Executive Order defining Life-Sustaining Businesses that can remain open and social distancing and hygiene requirements.

11:50 am     Topics for our Next Meeting

11:55 am     Announcements

We welcome everyone to share announcements and changes that your organization has made during the pandemic. 

12:00 pm     Adjourn (or Stick Around for Side Conversation)

Last Agenda

December 16, 2019

10:00  Welcome and Introductions



We welcome all of you to the meeting and encourage you to network with representatives from allied organizations. 


10:15  Legislative Issues Roundtable Discussion


We invite everyone to participate in this discussion of legislative issues as the 2020 General Assembly looms. We’ll discuss our policy goals and potential defensive tasks in all areas that affect working Kentuckians. 


11:00  Messaging Workshop

KEJC Communications Coordinator, Allison Crawford, will lead a discussion on the workers’ rights messaging themes that KEJC and partners have developed. We’ll test them on you, the experts, before we test them online with the general public. Some messages are already going out--we will solicit your feedback and analysis on recent messaging and its responses.


11:45  Health Benefits for Low Income Workers: Update


From oral arguments in Stewart v. Azar to the election of a new Governor and legislative task force recommendations, a lot has happened with the future of healthcare and public benefits! We’ll receive brief updates from KEJC staff and others participating in the efforts to maintain important safety net programs. 


12:00  Lunch


Lunch is on us! Use this time to catch up with colleagues from around the state as we gear up for more discussion. 

12:30  Workplace Safety Updates


Over a year ago, journalists exposed Kentucky’s recent poor track record of worker injury and fatality investigations. Our task force previously brought in national experts and brainstormed responses. A new federal audit suggests the state is doing better. Has the situation really improved, and what’s on the horizon with a new administration?


  • David Stumbo from Eastern Kentucky University will lead our discussion. 

  • Debbie Berkowitz from National Employment Law Project will offer her assessment.


1:00  Greetings from Southern Migrant Legal Services


We’ll hear from Southern Migrant Legal Services about their services and efforts in Kentucky on worker safety, education and outreach and litigation. 


1:10  Employment Law Case Updates


All attendees are encouraged to update the group on interesting employment law cases that we should be following. We are especially looking forward to hearing from:


  • Ned Pillersdorf and Janet Stumbo from Eastern Kentucky. They, among others, have assisted the Blackjewel miners whose pay was withheld when the company filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Many of us have followed this case in the news, so this perspective directly from attorney advocates should be particularly interesting. 


1:40  Announcements and Agency Updates


Holiday party? Lobby day during 2020 General Assembly? Upcoming conference or meeting? New initiative? Announce it here!


2:00  Adjourn

Previous Agenda


May 30, 2019  

11:00  Welcome and Introductions


11:15  Strategic, United Messaging for Workers’ Rights

Allison Dean Crawford, KEJC Communications Coordinator, will describe a new mini-grant to develop and test messages around worker’s rights and working families.  She’ll also discuss storytelling as a messaging tool.


Anastasia Christman, Worker Power Program Director, Michele Evermore, Senior Policy Analyst, and Debbie Berkowitz, Worker Health and Safety Program Director, of the National Employment Law Project, will help us understand the big picture of which messaging angles are proven to work the best in the field of workers’ rights.


With input and ideas for collaboration from attendees. Background:

NELP HART poll on subcontracting

12:00  Lunch


12:30  Now is the Time to Submit YOUR Federal Comments


McKenzie Cantrell, KEJC Employment Law Attorney, will present updates and opportunities on recent federal rule proposals:



1:00    Kentucky Equal Justice Roadshow


Updates on Defending Medicaid and SNAP for Working People


  • Ben Carter, Senior Litigation and Advocacy Counsel

  • Betsy Davis, Health Law Fellow


KY Equal Justice Radio


  • Beka Bruner, VISTA Outreach Specialist and radio co-host


1:15  Steps Forward on Worker Safety?


Updates and next steps on the KY Office of Safety and Health, worker’s compensation, and black lung benefits

  • Rich Seckel, Director, KEJC

  • Debbie Berkowitz, Worker Health and Safety Program Director, National Employment Law Project


1:30  Around the Room:  2019 General Assembly and Other Updates


We will use this session as a round robin to discuss updates and lessons learned from the 2019 General Assembly. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion.


Pregnant Workers Rights Act

  • Elizabeth Gedmark, A Better Balance (invited)

Arbitration, SB 7

  • Ben Carter, KEJC


Unemployment Insurance Litigation: Changes to UI Hearings

  • Robyn Smith, Abney Law Office


2:15  Announcements


2:30  Adjourn

Previous Agenda


January 31, 2019

10:00 Welcome and Introductions

  • Overview of General Assembly

  • Workers' Rights Bills of Concern and Interest

  • Community Partner Perspective

Find our Bill Tracking Chart here!

Past Meetings


December 17, 2018

11:00 Welcome and Introductions


11:15 Threats to Workers Safety and How to Push Back

  • Protecting Worker Safety: Debbie Berkowitz, National Employment Law Project, will present on the nation-wide threats to workers’ compensation and where Kentucky fits in this national context.

  • Responding to Black Lung Benefit Cuts in Kentucky: Representative Angie Hatton, sponsor of BR 163, and Evan Smith, Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center

  • Professional Perspectives on the Investigative Reporting into KY Office of Safety and Health: Larry Roberts, former Secretary of the Labor Cabinet


12:15 Lunch


12:30 Kentucky Supreme Court Review

  • McKenzie Cantrell, Kentucky Equal Justice Center, will lead updates and discussion on recent decisions on Right to Workand Arbitration.


12:45 Heads Up: Issues for 2019

  • Unemployment Insurance: Michele Evermore, National Employment Law Project, and Rich Seckel, Kentucky Equal Justice Center

  • State of Working Kentucky 2018 Report: Dustin Pugel, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy

  • Attack on Working People Through Public Benefits Programs: Jason Dunn, Kentucky Voices for Health

  • Pregnant Workers' Rights Act: Elizabeth Gedmark, A Better Balance


1:45 Around the Room: The 2019 General Assembly

  • We will use this session as a round robin to discuss what may be ahead during the 2019 General Assembly. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion.


2:15 Announcements

  • 2019 Task Force Meeting Dates


2:30 Adjourn

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