Oklahoma Right-to-Work Law Closer to Reality

The Okla. Senate passed a right-to-work joint resolution Mar. 14 that would require a constitutional amendment be placed on a state ballot for voters to decide whether employees should be required to be members of a union or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.  The initiative passed 31-17. Both Houses of the Legislature are controlled by Democrats.

A portion of the resolution that would have required a special election to be called Aug. 28, 2001, did not receive the required two-thirds vote to pass. Therefore, under the version passed by the Senate, the referendum would not take place until November 2002 — during the next regularly scheduled election.

The initiative now will go to the House, where union bosses hope it will die in committee. Jim Curry, Okla. AFL-CIO boss, told BNA that “the fight isn’t over yet.” He said that organized labor is hopeful that the resolution will be assigned to the House Business & Labor Committee, in which legislators are supportive of labor. If it is assigned to that committee Curry believes “it will be killed there.”

Richard Rush, president of the Okla. State Chamber, called the Senate vote “historic,” noting that in previous years similar measures have died in committee without making it to the floor for a vote. The last time that Oklahomans voted on the issue was in 1964, he said. [BNA 3/15/01]