Senator Holt blasts union ads using bombing images

State Sen. David Holt of Oklahoma City has called a television commercial using images of the 1995 Murrah Building Bombing, “horrific and tasteless.” In a statement today sent to CapitolBeatOK and other news organizations, Holt said the AFL-CIO and IAFF labor unions should cease using the commercial. The advertisement is encouraging opposition to legislation Holt is advancing which would reform how cities negotiate with local government employees.

“One of the most important lessons from the Murrah Bombing was the need to moderate our political rhetoric,” said Holt, a Trustee for the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.  “The idea that these unions would use images of the Bombing to attack a proposed reform of a union negotiating process is beyond the pale.” 

Released just weeks before the 16th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing, the commercial shows images of the April 19, 1995 attack. It asks viewers to call their legislator and ask for their opposition to Senate Bill 826, co-authored by Holt, and Rep. Scott Martin of Norman. Both men are Republicans.

The press release announcing the commercial said that the ad is part of pro-union efforts also being staged by the AFL-CIO and the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) in Wisconsin and Ohio.

S.B. 826 passed the Senate on March 10 and is awaiting consideration in the House.

Advocates say the bill would reform binding arbitration, the process by which an arbitrator determines the salary and benefits of municipal union employees when a city’s elected representatives and their unions cannot agree on a contract. Proponents of reform have maintained that the current process, created in 1994, favors unions over taxpayers.

Holt noted that the Fraternal Order of Police and the AFL-CIO / IAFF negotiated the legislation with members of the Senate. The Fraternal Order of Police, Holt noted, is not opposed to SB 826. 

Reform of binding arbitration is endorsed by the Oklahoma Academy, the Oklahoma State Chamber, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, and the Oklahoma Municipal League.

“The AFL-CIO and the IAFF should be ashamed of this horrific and tasteless commercial. I sincerely ask that this commercial be removed from the airwaves immediately, out of respect to the people of Oklahoma,” Holt said.  “The victims and heroes of April 19th are not political pawns to be exploited whenever the Legislature seeks to reform a union negotiating process.”

On the House side, Rep. Martin has sponsored H.B. 1593, repealing a state mandate on municipalities to bargain with non-uniformed employees.