Capitol Beat OK

Fallin signs municipal collective bargaining repeal

Governor Mary Fallin today signed into law House Bill 1593, authored by Representative Steve Martin, Senator Cliff Aldridge and Senator Clark Jolley. H.B. 1593 repeals the Oklahoma Municipal Employee Collective Bargaining Act, a law requiring collective bargaining for non-uniformed employees in cities with at least 35,000 residents.

“House Bill 1593 will help to control costs for Oklahoma’s cities and save taxpayer dollars,” said Fallin. “I’m happy to sign it into law.”

Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman and Muskogee – all of which had collective bargaining agreements prior to the 2004 passage of the Oklahoma Municipal Employee Collective Bargaining Act – will not be affected by the new law. HB 1593 goes into effect 90 days from today.

Advocating for the bill this year, Martin told reporters, “In 2004, the state of Oklahoma imposed upon Oklahoma’s 13 largest cities the requirement of collective bargaining with non-uniformed employees. This unfunded mandate by a state that does not even allow collective bargaining with its own employees is no more justified than would be a federal mandate interfering with a state’s employment policies.”

Rep. Martin said, “The existing law caused unnecessary divisions in city government and drove up the cost to taxpayers without a corresponding improvement in services. Passage of this bill is a victory for the taxpayers.”

Some municipalities had approved collective bargaining with non-uniformed prior to the passage of the mandate in OMECBA; they are not affected by removal of the mandate for negotiations. 

“We are not outlawing collective bargaining for non-uniformed municipal employees in Oklahoma. We are simply removing an unwarranted mandate,” he argued.  “Those wanting collective bargaining in their communities should seek it from the voters of those communities as happened in four Oklahoma cities.”

Martin, a Republican, represents Nowata, Washington and Osage Counties. 

According to information provided by The Oklahoma Municipal League, the amount saved will vary from city to city but one city could save in excess of $900,000.

House Bill 1593 previously passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 59-38 vote. It then passed the state Senate on a 29-19 vote. 

With Fallin’s signature, House Bill 1593 goes into effect 90 days from today.
NOTE: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.