The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

4 December 2004

Second thoughts

This past year's Senate Bill 1529, passed by the legislature in March and signed by Governor Henry in April, permits municipal employees of cities with populations of 35,000 or more to unionize. (This would include Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, Lawton, Broken Arrow, Edmond, Midwest City, Enid, Moore, Stillwater, Muskogee, and maybe Bartlesville, which recorded 34,748 at the last Census; it does not cover firefighters and police, who have their own collective-bargaining rules.)

The law took effect on the first of November. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees almost immediately announced that they would seek to organize Lawton, Enid, Bartlesville and Moore city employees, and employees of the Oklahoma City Zoo Trust, who are not covered under the agreement between Oklahoma City and AFSCME Local 2406.

Since then, Enid has filed suit to block the implementation of the law, arguing that it's unconstitutional because of that population standard; Lawton City Council has authorized a suit; Bartlesville, on that population cusp, would like to be excluded; and the Zoo Trust has won a restraining order against AFSCME until such time as the District Court decides whether its employees meet the definition of "municipal employees" in the new law.

The new House will be under Republican control, and Marian Cooksey (R-Edmond), in what seems to be her first official action, has introduced House Bill 1002, which would repeal the measure outright.

Posted at 8:47 AM to Soonerland