Charles A. Daugherty
First Labor Commissioner
Early Labor Department Employees
History of the Oklahoma Department of Labor
The Oklahoma Department of Labor was created by the Oklahoma Constitution in 1907. In August of that year, delegates from the Twin-Territorial Federation of Labor, the State Farmers' Union and the Railroad Brotherhoods met in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to formulate a list of demands for the upcoming constitutional convention. One demand called for the establishment of a State Labor Department.
Consequently, when the new state constitution was ratified by the delegates to the constitutional convention in 1907, the Oklahoma Department of Labor was created. Since its inception, the department has functioned continuously under many different commissioners and governors.
The first commissioner, Charles A. Daugherty served two four-year terms from 1907 to 1915. At that time the Labor Department was located in Guthrie, as were all state agencies. The original staff consisted of five people: a commissioner, an assistant commissioner, a state factory inspector, a superintendent of the State Free Employment Bureau and a stenographer.
Today the Department of Labor has a staff of 86, with 71 people at the main office in Oklahoma City, and 15 people in the Tulsa office. Several individuals operate within defined territories away from the two primary offices.
The Commissioner of Labor is responsible for the enforcement of those labor laws that promote fairness and equity in the workforce, including state wage laws, workers' compensation compliance, state OSHA laws for public employers, asbestos compliance, child labor laws and various other duties. The office of the Commissioner of Labor has been both appointive and elective at various times in our state's history.
Mark Costello became Oklahoma’s Commissioner of Labor on January 10, 2011.