Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Showdown Brewing on Right To-Work / Vote Expected This Week

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Showdown Brewing on Right To-Work / Vote Expected This Week

Article excerpt

There are only four days left in the legislative session, and one of the most divisive issues to face lawmakers is poised to make yet another entrance into the political arena.

That is right-to-work, a proposed law that would ban compulsory union membership as a prerequisite for getting or holding a job.

An earlier attempt to get a right-to-work law through the current legislative session failed when the House narrowly killed - 48-42 - a proposed amendment that would have carried out the plan.

But a conference committee report on Senate Bill 1, the so-called automotive ""lemon law,'' has a section that would enact a state right-to-work law.

The lemon law bill would require motor vehicle manufacturers, agents or dealers to make repairs under warranties, replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price.

But the last part of the report says no person shall be required, as a condition of employment or continuation of employment, to become or remain a member of a labor union.

It also says that no person shall be required to pay any dues, fees, assessments or other charges to a labor union as a condition of employment.

The section adds that no worker shall be required to resign or to be refrained from voluntary membership in, voluntary affiliation with or voluntary financial support of a labor organization.

""We'll probably bring the bill up next week, or we might hold it till the week after'' said Rep. Mike Fair, the Oklahoma City Republican who lost the earlier attempt to pass right to work.

""We're one vote short in the Senate and three in the House,'' Fair said. ""We're working on getting those.''

Right-to-work has been hailed by business leaders and chambers of commerce as a prime industry recruiting tool. They point out that Texas and most of the states surrounding Oklahoma have such a law.

But opponents, chiefly organized labor leaders, contend that a right-to-work law does not stimulate the economy but only holds down the pay of employees.

""We think that right to work is crucial'' in encouraging industry to move to Oklahoma, said Ed Cook, manager of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. ""I simply want a fair shot at getting in thefront door of every industry in the country.

""Approximately 50 percent of the companies don't even consider a state that doesn't have a right-to-work law when they are relocating. That is one of the items they have on their check list, and if there is no such law they don't go any further.''

However, Ross Williams, secretary-treasurer of the state AFL-CIO, contended that right to work would not mean an industrial boom for Oklahoma. …

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