Muskogee, Okla. (January 28, 2002) – The Oklahoma AFL-CIO is attempting to prevent three Oklahoma workers from joining Governor Keating in defending Oklahoma’s new Right to Work constitutional amendment. The workers are receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The employees argue that, if the unions prevail in voiding the statewide ban on forced unionism, they will suffer direct financial harm as well as damage to their interests of free speech and free association.
“Big Labor opposes the intervention of our clients because they are afraid to let the workers of Oklahoma speak for themselves. They know that if given a chance most laborers will reject the shackles of forced unionism,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “These employees deserve the right to be free from the corruption and abuse created by compulsory unionism.”
The Oklahoma AFL-CIO, six local unions, and a heavily unionized company filed the suit last November in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma to overturn the will of Oklahoma voters in enacting State Question 695 on September 25, 2001. The Right to Work constitutional amendment bans the widespread union practice of forcing workers to join an unwanted union or pay any union dues as a condition of employment. Oklahoma is the newest of America’s 22 Right to Work states.
The employees had filed with the court as “defendant intervenors.” That would ensure that they can file briefs and make arguments in court defending their direct financial and liberty interests at stake in the preservation of the Right to Work amendment. Meanwhile, Governor Keating’s primary legal responsibility is to protect the interest of the public at large in a law passed by electoral referendum.
The three employees are Kent Duvall, an employee of United Parcel Service, Michelle McKenzie, an employee of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, and Stephen Weese, an employee of Oklahoma Fixture Company.
Motions for summary judgment will be filed by the parties on or before January 31, 2002.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.