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Oklahoma Workers Recount Right To Work Details At Statehouse

Oklahoma workers told lawmakers the promises of more jobs and higher wages offered by Right to Work haven't proven true in Oklahoma.

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Photo: Jasont82 (Wikimedia)

Union workers from Oklahoma came to the Statehouse to oppose Indiana's Right to Work bill.

As Indiana debates becoming the 23rd Right to Work state in the country, workers from Oklahoma, the most recent state to pass Right to Work, came to Indiana Wednesday with warnings about the policy.

Right to Work legislation bans union contracts that require non-union employees pay fees for representation.   Jesse Isbell worked at the Oklahoma City Bridgestone tire plant for 36 years before it shut down and moved operations to Mexico.  He says Right to Work made the work environment at the plant more difficult as union members worked alongside those who chose not to pay any fees.

“This not only impacted employee morale, it affected productivity, profitability and the quality of the operations at our plants,” Isbell says.

But bill author Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) says workers forced to pay dues but not happy with their representation doesn’t promote a good work environment:

“The analogy is: Representative [Bill] Davis and I grab you and pull you in a cab with us and tell the cab driver to go to Chicago and then when we get to Chicago we tell you, ‘You owe three hundred dollars for your third of the cab fare,’” Torr says.

Isbell says Right to Work lowered wages in Oklahoma and did not deliver the jobs promised by supporters.  Torr insists the data shows that, overall, wages went up and jobs were created.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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