OK Attny. General, Union, & Employer Keep Anti-Right to Work Lawsuit Under Wraps

Obtaining free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a Tulsa-area worker this week asked to intervene in state court to defend Oklahoma’s Right to Work constitutional amendment against a stealth union lawsuit filed without fanfare two months ago.

Filed in Oklahoma State District Court for Tulsa County, Eastern Oklahoma Building and Construction Trades Council v. Ralph Pitts challenges the Right to Work amendment on grounds that it violates the Oklahoma constitution. Circumstances suggest that the suit is a “collusion suit” intended by both parties (union and employer) to void the state’s Right to Work law quietly, without arguments made zealously by a party that sincerely supports the law.

Meanwhile, the state’s Democrat attorney general quietly declined to intervene to defend the Right to Work amendment. Neither the attorney general nor any party to the suit has publicly revealed its existence, even though it could overturn the will of a majority of Oklahoma voters.

National Right to Work Foundation attorneys representing Stephen Weese, an employee of the Oklahoma Fixture Company in Tulsa, learned of the suit from a legal brief filed by union lawyers in the Oklahoma Supreme Court as part of proceedings in another lawsuit filed against the Right to Work amendment on entirely separate grounds. That case, which awaits a final ruling by the state’s highest court, challenged the amendment on grounds that certain provisions were preempted by federal law.

Weese filed papers this week with the Tulsa court seeking to be admitted to this new case as a “defendant intervenor” to ensure that his attorneys can file briefs and make arguments to defend his direct financial and liberty interests at stake in the preservation of the Right to Work amendment.  In this new “stealth” lawsuit, union lawyers argue the Right to Work law is unconstitutional under the state constitution, even though the Right to Work law was passed as an amendment to the state constitution.

On September 25, 2001, Oklahoma became a Right to Work state when voters enacted State Question 695, a constitutional amendment which bans the widespread practice of forcing workers to join an unwanted union or pay any union dues as a condition of employment. Since Right to Work took effect in Oklahoma, the state has led the nation in creation of new jobs – despite a struggling American economy. [NRTWLDF, 6/19/03]