State judge declares right-to-work law unconstitutional

Friday, June 27th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A Tulsa County judge has ruled the state's right-to-work law is unconstitutional, granting a labor union's claim that the law violates its due process rights.

A national group supporting right-to-work, which had sought to intervene in the case, dismissed District Judge David L. Peterson's ruling Thursday as coming in a ``rigged lawsuit.''

Eastern Oklahoma Building & Construction Trades Council sued Ralph W. Pitts, doing business as Your Electric Service, last month in Tulsa County.

The Virginia-based National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation sought to intervene, claiming the lawsuit was designed to void the 2001 law without opposition from a group that truly supports the law.

The Springfield, Va., group, also has sent Attorney General Drew Edmondson a letter asking him why he has not intervened in the case to defend the state's law.

Oklahoma voters in September 2001 adopted a constitutional right-to-work amendment outlawing so-called security clauses in union contracts that require workers to pay union dues.

U.S. District Judge Frank Seay, ruling in an earlier lawsuit, found that parts of the amendment violated federal law. He declined to declare the state law unconstitutional, however.

That finding was appealed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to give its opinion on the matter.