State Labor Commissioner Mark Costello on Tuesday blamed federal budget cuts caused by sequestration for the pending closure of the state Labor Department's Tulsa office.
About 20 percent of the Labor Department's annual budget comes from federal funds, Costello said. The agency, with about 78 full-time employees, oversees areas from locksmiths to workers' compensation enforcement and child labor laws. Its federal funding will be cut by about $481,000 next year due to sequestration, he said.
“We wanted to be proactive, and this is part of that,” Costello said.
The department will shut the office at the end of May and has offered 11 workers there the option of taking a buyout or relocating to Oklahoma City.
The Tulsa office served an average of about seven visitors each week, and many services the bureau offers are available online, Costello said. Other, such as testing for locksmiths, are available at CareerTech centers and other places around the state, he said.
The Oklahoma Public Employees Association on Tuesday moved to file a public records request to learn more about Costello's decision to close the office, union spokeswoman Trish Frazier said.
She said questions include what funding stream is being lost to cause this action; how will people in eastern Oklahoma be affected; what salary adjustments have been made in the past three years; and what severance and relocation packages have been offered.