New date sought for right to work election

Friday, April 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Lawmakers sought a new date for a statewide referendum on right to work Thursday, a day after the Oklahoma House passed a measure to hold the election in November 2002.

Minority Leader Fred Morgan, R-Oklahoma City, said he filed a resolution to set a new election date but did not pick a date pending negotiations between labor and business leaders. A similar resolution was filed in the Senate, he said.

``We haven't reached an agreement,'' Morgan said. ``If we're going to get on the June ballot, we're going to have to get this legislation through quickly.''

The House passed a measure on Wednesday that calls for a statewide vote on whether unions can require employees to pay dues. It was previously approved by the Senate.

But a special election provision calling for a special election on Aug. 14 failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority. Its failure pushed the election to the general election in November 2002.

Supporters of right to work, including State Chamber of Commerce President Richard P. Rush, have said they would like to put the issue before voters sooner.

``The chamber has no special date in mind. We'd like to get it done as quickly as we can,'' Rush said.

Right-to-work supporters maintain it will help Oklahoma's economy grow and create new jobs. Opponents say it will lower wages and harm labor unions.

Many supporters oppose an election during the summer, when families are vacationing out of state and turnout would be low.

Rush said turnout in next year's general election would be very high because of the interest in statewide, legislative and congressional races.

Rep. Opio Toure, D-Oklahoma City, has filed a related initiative petition to require employers to provide 15 days notice before they terminate workers.

The petition, filed on Tuesday, also calls for a vote of the people in the November 2002 general election.