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State Senator Clark Jolley (R-SD 41) has introduced a bill to repeal Section 51-200 of Title 11 of the Oklahoma Statutes. This act, signed into law in 2004, is known as the “Oklahoma Municipal Employee Collective Bargaining Act.” As this title implies, the legislature endorses collective bargaining for municipal employees by specifically:
1. Granting to municipal employees the right to associate with others in organizing and choosing representatives for the purpose of collective bargaining;
2. Requiring municipal employers to recognize, negotiate and bargain with employee organizations representing municipal employees and to enter into written agreements evidencing the result of bargaining; and
3. Encouraging labor peace through the establishment of standards and procedures which protect the rights of the municipal employer, the municipal employee and the citizens of this state.
The law applies to municipalities with more than 35,000 residents.
A lawsuit was filed by several cities, including Broken Arrow and Enid, to invalidate the law on constitutional grounds. However, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court upheld the law in the 2005 session.
So here we have a Republican lawmaker, with Department of Labor experience, attempting to circumvent a decision by the OKSSC, by repealing a law the court ruled legitimate. Jolley is determined to revoke the rights of janitors, file clerks and other employees of city governments in Oklahoma to freely organize and bargain collectively with their employer. By his action, Jolley shows his distain for the legal mandate for certain city governments to recognize, negotiate and bargain with its employees.
Senator Jolley, a Edmond lawyer, is a first term member of the Senate and former Administrative Law Judge for the Oklahoma Department of Labor under then Commissioner Brenda Reneau.