Oklahoma Supreme Court upholds right-to-work law

Tuesday, December 16th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Supreme Court Tuesday upheld the constitutionality of the state's right-to-work law.

The court affirmed a Tulsa County trial judge's decision upholding the law, which prohibits workers from being required to pay union dues.

The Eastern Oklahoma Building & Construction Trades Council challenged the law. It said it wasn't legal for unions to be forced to represent workers who don't pay dues.

Voters overwhelmingly passed the right-to-work constitutional amendment in September 2001.

The Supreme Court also rendered an opinion in support of the right-to-work law in response to a request from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court ruled that although certain ancillary provisions of the right-to-work law were found in violation of federal law, this should not invalidate the entire statute.

Oklahoma was the 22nd state to adopt such a law.

The trades council sued electric contractor Ralph W. Pitts on May 13. The union also argued the law unjustly singles out labor unions and that the question put to voters dealt with too many issues.

``Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, I think it's important that we all put this issue behind us and move forward,'' Gov. Brad Henry said in a written statement. ``Over the years, this has been a very divisive issue that has pitted good people against each other and prevents us from working together to build a better Oklahoma.''

Former Gov. Frank Keating, who advocated right-to-work throughout his two terms as governor, praised the Supreme Court decision.

``It's a glorious day for small business and income earners in Oklahoma,'' he said. He said the law allows Oklahoma to compete effectively with other right-to-work states.

Attorneys for plaintiffs in the right-to-work cases did not immediately return telephone calls.