The Oklahoma Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would repeal a 2004 law requiring cities with more than 35,000 people to grant collective bargaining rights to non-uniformed city employees. The bill, HB 1593, passed 29-19 in the Senate after already passing the House and now heads to Republican Governor Mary Fallin’s desk where she is expected to sign the bill into law.
The bill only applies to non-uniformed personnel in 12 Oklahoma municipalities. The law would not apply to teachers, police and firefighters. Four of those cities – Muskogee, Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa – had collective bargaining agreements in place prior to the original law being passed in 2004.
Senator Cliff Aldridge, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said he thinks it's unfair to force cities to participate in collective bargaining and that cities still will have option to choose to collectively bargain if they wish. "It's about a principle that I believe in, local control," said Aldridge.
The repeal of the law will allow for more local decisions concerning collective bargaining agreements.
The bill follows in the footsteps of the law passed in Wisconsin that scaled back collective bargaining from state employees and a bill in Ohio that stripped collective bargaining rights when negotiating wages. The Oklahoma bill doesn’t go quite as far as the bills in the Midwest, but it puts Oklahoma in better company when it comes to labor policy and the state fiscal situation.