Right to work groups file contribution reports

Tuesday, September 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Opponents have a slight edge over proponents in raising funds for their right-to-work campaigns, reports released on Monday showed.

According to state Ethics Commission reports, Oklahomans for No on SQ 695 raked in $1,025,500 in donations during the period from Sept. 1-10, bringing the group's total contributions to $4.9 million.

The Oklahoma State AFL-CIO RTW (right to work) Issue Fund, another opponent of right to work, raised $108,422 in the same period.

Campaign donations made to Right to Work for Oklahomans, an arm of Oklahoma Families for Jobs and Justice, reported $4.3 million in campaign donations. Oklahomans for Right to Work raised $343,163 during the Sept. 1-10 time frame.

``This latest report just underlines what was expected all along, that the anti right-to-work campaign is funded primarily by out-of-state labor unions,'' said Nate Webb, communications director for the pro right-to-work group.

``It's primarily a case of Oklahomans versus well-funded out-of-state labor.''

Grace Hall, a spokeswoman for the No on SQ 695 group, said her group believes proponents of State Question 695 and multinational corporations will outspend the anti-695 campaign in the end.

Hall said she believes Oklahomans are responding to the right-to-work opposition's message that wages and benefits will decline if Oklahoma adopts right to work.

The pro right-to-work group has argued the opposite, saying wages and benefits will improve if Oklahoma becomes a right-to-work state.

Right to work would prohibit requiring an employee to pay dues or a bargaining service fee to a union as a condition of employment. Federal law, however, requires a union to represent a worker whether or not the employee is a dues-paying member.

Oklahomans decide the issue Sept. 25.

During this latest reporting period, opponents spent more than $816,000, with most of it being spent by the No on SQ 695 organization, reports showed.

Oklahomans for Right to Work spent $774,768 during the same Sept. 1-10 period, reports showed.

Donations to opponents of right to work during this latest reporting period include $575,000 from the Oklahoma State AFL-CIO RTW Issue Fund, and $1.5 million from the American Federation of Labor, based in Washington.

Contributions to proponents during the period include $100,000 from ONEOK Inc., Tulsa, and $10,000 from the Fred Jones Companies Inc., Oklahoma City.