Oklahoma's Delegation Weigh In On Labor Legislation

Wednesday, March 10th 2021, 5:28 pm
By: Alex Cameron


A bill that some are calling "the most important labor legislation in decades" now awaits action in the Senate after approval Tuesday in the U.S. House.

Members of Congress from Oklahoma, meanwhile, are calling the bill "misguided" and said it will leave workers "in the dust."

The entire Oklahoma delegation is opposed to the legislation, but probably no one more than Congressman Kevin Hern, a successful businessman who sees it as very anti-business.

"The PRO Act is a dangerous example of power for union leaders without necessary protections for union members," Hern, (R) OK-1, announced on the House floor.

Hern doesn't buy the argument of union leaders that the PRO Act -- Protecting the Right to Organize Act -- would help correct what they say is inequality in the workplace, by lifting restrictions on organizing.

In an interview Wednesday, Hern said this will only hurt workers in Oklahoma because it would undermine Right to Work laws that allow employees in union jobs to decide whether they want to join the union and pay dues or not.

"This would completely erase that," Hern explained. “This would force all employees to become a member of the union and pay dues, and if they didn't, it would be very difficult for them to find a job."

Congressman Tom Cole said he is not anti-union, but in a speech during the bill's visit to the House Rules Committee on Tuesday, said the bill is essentially a "union boss wish list."

"At every turn, the bill prioritizes union bosses over workers and businesses," said Cole, (R) OK-4, "and at every turn, it stacks the deck in favor of unionization."

Under the bill, unions could override state Right to Work laws, which allow workers to get the benefits of union bargaining, but without paying union dues. Oklahoma is one of 27 states with Right to Work laws on the books. The measure would also strive to keep management from interfering with organizing drives.

Critics said this is not about helping workers, but this is about the Democrats trying to keep a major campaign donor -- organized labor -- happy.

"So this is really just a payback from Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats to the unions for all the money they gave them during the elections," Hern stated.

This same bill also made it to the Senate last year, but under its then-GOP leadership, the measure never got a vote. Now, with the Democrats in charge, it may get a vote, but it likely won't get the 60 votes it would need to overcome a filibuster and pass.