Municipal collective bargaining law headed for repeal
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Published: 20-Apr-2011

Legislation repealing a state law requiring collective bargaining for non-uniformed workers in nine Oklahoma cities is now headed to Gov. Mary Fallin to be signed into law.

House Bill 1593, by state Rep. Steve Martin, would repeal the 2004 law that required unionization for non-uniformed employees in cities with at least 35,000 residents.

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.”

Four of the 13 affected municipalities had approved collective bargaining with non-uniformed prior to the passage of the mandate in OMECBA, according to Martin. 

“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.

The bill would not affect the four cities that had collective bargaining agreements with non-uniformed workers prior to 2004 – Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman and Muskogee.

House Bill 1593 previously passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 59-38 vote. Tuesday (April 19), it passed the state Senate on a 29-19 vote. It now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin, who is expected to sign it  into law.

NOTE: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report. 

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