Oklahoma union workers speak out against Indiana "right to work"

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The Indiana "right to work" debate heard from Oklahoma union members Wednesday.

Earlier this week, the President of the Oklahoma Chamber said that the controversial labor legislation has made the Sooner state a better place to live economically.

Wednesday, union workers from Oklahoma spoke in the hallway to the contrary that focused on poverty rates in the state.

"In 2000, twenty percent of Oklahoma's children were on some form of government assistance. In 2010, forty percent of Oklahoma's children were on some form of government assistance. This Sunday, Howard Hendrick, the director of the Dept. of Human Services in the state of Oklahoma, said this year, at some time during this year, sixty percent of the children in Oklahoma would receive some kind of government assistance. Is this the promise of right to work?" said Jesse Isbell.

Supporters of the right-to-work measure say it would bring more jobs to Indiana, where unemployment has crept up to around 9 percent. Opponents say it is aimed at breaking unions and claim it would depress wages for all workers. House Democrats had stalled the bill again but ended a three-day boycott of the House on Monday.

The House is scheduled to convene Wednesday at 1:30 pm.

House Democrats stayed away from the floor after the labor committee approved the bill 8-5 Tuesday, saying Republicans wrongly prevented Democratic members from offering any amendments during the meeting. Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said the committee acted properly and Democrats will be able to offer amendments later.

Bosma tried twice Tuesday afternoon to gavel the chamber into order, but the vast majority of House Democrats instead cloistered themselves in a meeting room in the Statehouse basement. That again denied Bosma the numbers needed to push the bill that would make Indiana the first state in a more than a decade to ban contracts that require workers to pay union fees for representation.

"I don't know what will slow them down or stop them other than what we're doing, I don't know that this will give them pause or not," said Pat Bauer, House minority leader.

Democrats left the state for five weeks last year to block the right-to-work proposal and other measures pushed by Republicans, but heavy new fines enacted after their walkout have made it harder for them to make such a dramatic move again.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.