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Oklahoma Enacts Right-to-Work in Special Election

September 26, 2001

Oklahoma voters enacted right-to-work by a margin of 68,000 votes out of 825,000 cast in a special election September 25. Oklahoma became the 22nd state to ban union security clauses by enacting right-to-work and is only the third state to enact such a law the past 40 years despite almost continuous campaigning by anti-union forces.

Oklahoma AFL-CIO President Jim Curry said getting more than 46 percent of the vote against the measure was the work of “fabulous coalitions” of workers, legal scholars and professors, among others.  We registered 30,000 new union members over the summer, in order to come from far behind in the early polls, Curry said.

A right-to-work law makes it illegal in that state for labor and management to agree on a union security clause in their collective bargaining agreement.  Union security clauses require that employees who choose not to join a union must pay an “agency fee” for the services of the union, because federal law mandates the union to represent everyone in the unit, member or non-member.

Oklahoma unions represent fewer than 100,000 workers, about 8 percent of the states workforce.  An estimated 20 percent of them are agency fee payers.

“This is sad day for working people in Oklahoma. This vote will result in further erosion of the ability of workers in Oklahoma to organize and bargain collectively in the state,” said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill.  “We are, however, gratified at the strong showing that the unions in Oklahoma made in the final weeks of the campaign.  We hope that they will use their increased political strength to elect a new crop of political leaders who will stand with working families for a change,” President Hill added.

Big Money Pours Into Oklahoma To Pass Right to Work in September

Oklahoma Right to Work

Campaign for Human Rights