Tulsa, Okla. (July 22, 2003) – In a victory for workers across Oklahoma, Judge David Peterson of the Oklahoma State District Court for Tulsa County ruled to uphold Oklahoma’s Right to Work Law, rejecting a clever union legal attack.
The decision came in the case of Eastern Oklahoma Building and Construction Trades Council v. Ralph Pitts, where union lawyers challenged the Right to Work amendment on grounds that it violates the Oklahoma constitution. In issuing his decision, Judge Peterson denied motions filed by the union lawyers and granted defendant intervenor Stephen Weese’s motion for summary judgment, thereby upholding the Right to Work amendment.
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys represented defendant intervenor Stephen Weese, an employee of Oklahoma Fixture Company in Tulsa. As such, Foundation attorneys were allowed to file briefs and make oral arguments defending employees’ direct financial and liberty interests at stake in the preservation of the Right to Work amendment.
“This is an encouraging development for workers across Oklahoma,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the Foundation. “It’s an outrage that union bosses are so hell-bent on destroying the freedom and prosperity that Oklahomans have begun to enjoy since the Right to Work amendment took effect.”
Filed quietly on May 13, 2003, in Oklahoma State District Court for Tulsa County, the suit challenged the Right to Work constitutional amendment on grounds that it somehow violates the Oklahoma constitution. When pressed, the plaintiff’s lawyer later admitted publicly that the suit was a “friendly suit,” meaning that both parties (union and employer) opposed the state’s Right to Work law.
Legal documents show that the employer defendant, electrical contractor Ralph Pitts, was represented by an attorney who has previously represented International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 584, a member of the plaintiff trades council and the “real party in interest” in this lawsuit. This attorney filed only a perfunctory “opposition” to the union’s motion for summary judgment.
A legal challenge filed on separate grounds is still pending at the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
On September 25, 2001, Oklahoma became a Right to Work state when voters enacted State Question 695, a constitutional amendment which bans the widespread practice of forcing workers to join an unwanted union or pay any union dues as a condition of employment. Since the Right to Work amendment took effect in Oklahoma, the state has led the nation in creation of new jobs – despite a struggling American economy.