RIGHT-to-work supporters raise more than $2 million for campaign so far

Saturday, August 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Supporters of a right-to-work proposal that voters will consider next month have raised more than $2.5 million so far, records show.

Oklahoma Families for Jobs and Justice Inc., the principal group pushing right to work, has raised five times more money than the union organization battling the issue.

The Oklahoma State AFL-CIO RTW (right-to-work) fund has raised $478,413 in the campaign over right to work, according to its campaign contribution and expenditure report that was filed at the state Ethics Commission on Friday.

Oklahoma voters will go to the polls Sept. 25 to decide whether to place right-to-work language in the state Constitution.

Right to work would bar requiring an employee to pay dues or a bargaining service fee to a union as a condition of employment. Proponents say right to work would be a boon to the economy, bringing more jobs and higher salaries to Oklahoma.

Opponents say it is an anti-union proposal that will lead to lower wages.

The pro right-to-work group has spent $863,343 so far, compared with $124,708 by the AFL-CIO group.

``We're raising as much as we can so our message about freedom and opportunity can get out to the voters of Oklahoma,'' said Chip Carter, campaign manager for the pro right-to-work group.

Carter predicted that before the campaign is over, unions will bring in three times more money ``than we will ever be able to raise.''

Jimmy C. Curry, president of the state AFL-CIO and head of the campaign against right to work, said unions can't compete with the other side.

``I've tried to solicit money from everybody else from out of state to help us because we can't compete with the amount of money multinational corporations are starting to raise,'' Curry said. ``It's quite evident I don't have the money to compete with them.''

Among contributions to the pro right-to-work group during the latest reporting period, July 1 through July 31, are $100,000 from Kerr-McGee Corp. of Oklahoma City; $100,000 from Devon Energy Corp., Oklahoma City; $100,000 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C.; $50,000 from Chesapeake Operating Inc., Oklahoma City; $50,000 from Bar S Foods, Phoenix, and $50,000 from Nordham Group Inc., Tulsa.

Among July contributions to the AFL-CIO group are $10,000 from the Bricklayers International Union, Oklahoma City; $25,000 from the Transport Workers Union in New York City; $10,000 from IUOE International in Livonia, Mich.; $10,000 from the IUOE, a union of operating engineers in Washington, D.C.; $3,000 from IBEW 584, an electrical workers union in Tulsa, and $1,500 from the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police.