As recently reported, conservatives across the country are stepping up their assaults on the pensions of public workers. But it isn't just at the local government level that such attacks are happening. Legislation that would change or cut public pensions are being pursued in several states, including Oklahoma. Much like the proposals you see in the cities, Tulsa World is reporting Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and Republican legislative leaders are pushing a plan to switch pensions for state workers from defined-benefit plans to defined-contribution plans, which could amount to massive cuts in retiree benefits. The switch would leave many, including those who are not part of the Social Security system, in poverty.
May 31, 2013, 7:30 p.m.: The alarm sounded. It was a house fire. As the firefighters gathered and donned their gear, the sky turned an eerie yellow-gray, signaling a severe storm. The rain came down in sheets. This was Moore, Okla.; a town reeling from some of the most devastating tornadoes on record—and another lurked overhead.
Not everything is OK in Oklahoma and as far as Sooner State working families are concerned, that includes the extremist and corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This afternoon hundreds of union and community activists will join the Fire Fighters (IAFF) for a rally and march in Oklahoma City to ALEC’s annual meeting at the city’s Cox Convention Center.
A live stream of the rally, which will include IAFF President Harold Schaitberger, will begin at 4 p.m. (CDT).
While government in Washington, D.C., remains divided and marked by long-term gridlock, governments in the states are much less divided. Of the 50 states, 37 now feature state governments where the governor and majorities in both legislative houses are controlled by one party—24 of those are controlled by Republicans. Extreme, anti-working family Republicans have repeatedly assaulted the rights of people in recent years and, by all accounts, the trend looks to expand in 2013. Working families are mobilized and fought back in 2012 and will continue to fight in 2013. The response to the "right to work" for less push in Michigan was so strong, that governors in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have since declared that they won't push for right to work in their states.
In 2001, Oklahoma passed a so-called right to work (RTW) law and its backers made the exact claims Hoosiers are hearing today. RTW proponents painted a picture of a booming economy with huge job creation as companies would swoop into Oklahoma like the Boomer Sooners of the 1889 land rush. None of that ever materialized, two Oklahoma workers told an Indiana statehouse news conference this morning.
Opponents of working families and their unions have been trying to ram so-called right to work laws through state legislatures. Such laws make it illegal for a group of unionized workers to negotiate a contract that requires each employee who enjoys the benefit of the contract to pay his or her share of the costs of negotiating and policing it.