New poll indicates strong support for right-to-work

Monday, May 15th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The vast majority of Oklahomans want a statewide vote on right-to-work, according to a new poll.

Most people in the survey also said they favor enacting it, although many indicated they didn't know the status of right-to-work in Oklahoma. Voters rejected it in 1964.

"This survey ... begs for the legislators to do their job and answer to the people," said state Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau Wynn. "Just put the issue on the ballot."

The poll from The Daily Oklahoman and the University of Oklahoma indicates 76 percent support right-to-work while 87 percent say they want the issue on the ballot.

The random survey was taken May 1-10 by pollsters for the University of Oklahoma Political Science Department's Public Opinion Learning Laboratory. It contains a 5 percent margin of error.

Under the current law, labor unions can require workers to pay union fees as a condition of employment in a unionized workplace. A right-to-work law would mean workers could hold jobs in a unionized workplace without paying the dues or joining the union.

Right-to-work proponents in the Legislature suffered a blow when right-to-work was proposed as an amendment to another bill. It was rejected by a 24-23 vote in the Senate on April 11.

A breakdown of the survey indicated that 81 percent of white collar workers supported right-to-work while 69 percent of blue collar workers expressed support.

Many Oklahomans did not know the state's status on right-to-work. Forty-seven percent either responded incorrectly or admitted they didn't know Oklahoma's right-to-work status.

Less than half the respondents said they strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that a right-to-work law would seriously weaken unions in the state.

Seventeen percent strongly agreed, with 26 percent agreeing somewhat. Nineteen percent neither agreed or disagreed, 19 percent disagreed somewhat, 11 percent disagreed strongly, with 8 percent saying they didn't know.