OPEA Sets the Record Straight on State Employee Longevity Pay

In response to a news story about state employee longevity pay, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association issued a press release asking the Tulsa World and the Daily Oklahoman to publish the full story about state employee compensation and longevity pay.


The Tulsa World published a story about state employee “bonuses” which was also reprinted in the Oklahoman on Sunday. The article criticized longevity pay, which is a lump sum payment state employees receive on their anniversary date equal to approximately $100 for each year of service. In addition, the article reported that 16 state employees received longevity pay of $8,000.


“As far as I know, we don’t have any employees who have worked for the state for eighty years to receive an $8,000 longevity check,” said OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley. “The average state employee longevity check is approximately $1,000.”


“Longevity pay is an important part of state employee total compensation,” Zearley continued. “State employees haven’t received a pay raise since 2006. Longevity is critical to help retain experienced workers to provide essential state services.”


In 1984, step increases were removed from state jobs and state employees became dependent on the political process for pay raises. Unlike the federal government, teachers and the Highway Patrol, Oklahoma state employees do not receive step increases. Teacher steps of $400 per year and Highway Patrol steps of as much as $3,700 per year in the first seven years add to base salary. State employee longevity is a lump sum payment that does not increase salaries.


According to the Office of Personnel Management state employee compensation lags the Oklahoma market by 16 percent. Longevity is included in the calculation.


“It is time state leaders addressed the issue of state employee total compensation,” concluded Zearley. “State employees have critical jobs that affect the daily lives of Oklahoma’s citizens. We must provide a competitive package of salary, health insurance, and retirement in order to recruit and retain Oklahoma’s workers.”

9 comments (Add your own)

1. concerned wrote:
This article also seems to have appeared online in The Norman Transcript and on some of the news channel web sites. While I myself am not a State Employee, it is very disheartening that the media would produce such a one sided article and then have the nerve to refer to the money as a bonus. As adressed in your article above, State Employees have not received raises in quite some time. This miniscule amount of "bonus", to quote the media, is almost embarrasing. If they really researched State pay, they might find out how many folks have difficulty making ends meet, and just how cherished the few hundred dollars they receive for the proper term longevity, means to them. What started out as a way to try to retain employees once they are knowledgeable in their job or field of epertise, has now been degraded in the media to make these folks seem like they are money hungry and ungrateful. This longevity money still doesn't get employees close to equalling the private sector, even with benefits. I for one am embarassed that the media would even comtemplate this article, let alone put forth the effort to run such a one sided story.

Mon, June 20, 2011 @ 3:08 PM

2. Pat wrote:
Thank you OPEA for responding so quickly. You might also publish an email address for us to also respond (on break time or off duty).

Mon, June 20, 2011 @ 3:54 PM

3. Jim wrote:

“In some cases, the pay boosted state employees’ salaries by nearly one third. Sixteen workers earned at least $8,000 extra because of the bonuses, 2010 data show.”

If that was the case then those employees would have had to start back in 1929 plus they would have to start when they were 18 years old…I don’t know about you but, I do not know anyone that old working for the state…if there is they are idiots!

And the fact that 121 state employees out of 30,000 received bonuses in 2010 are more than likely all Legislators at the Capitol.

The merit evaluation process is no longer used is a result of abuse of the system. If you did not suck up to your boss, no matter how hard you worked you did not get the evaluation that was required to receive a raise and people who did nothing and shouldn’t have, did get a raise. Longevity was a result of trying to fix that problem…then when it comes to a raise either we all get one or none of us get one.

Further down in the article they make us sound like we are bankrupting the state by saying:

“According to Office of State Finance data more than 900 state employees received multiple longevity payments last year – an indication that they took the buyout. About 230 workers took home at least $5,000. A few received more than $10,000, data shows.”

And there are times that someone should be fired that does not. However; just about every time that happens I can guarantee that person is a Senators son or a Representatives nephew, cousin etc.

It appears that the Tulsa World needs to apologize and retract some of the statements made…but, I won’t be holding my breath.

Tue, June 21, 2011 @ 8:22 AM

4. Angela wrote:
with the low state pay scale, longevity is the only true benefit for faithful service way beyond the 8 to 5 work frame. it is the yearly payment that pays bills that could not be paid at they piled up. Its what gets you through many months. to get state employees ahead for a month. Yes there are bad employee's. I m sure the paper also has some like that. but there are many good hard working state employee's and yes they deserve longevity.

Tue, June 21, 2011 @ 11:17 PM

5. State Employee wrote:
As stated already 2006 was the last time state employees received a pay raise, and how much has fuel and other expenses increased since that time? The longevity is the only thing that helps as an incentive. I love the state of Oklahoma and have been a proud employee of the state, but I find it insulting to have reports such as this written. The teachers, troopers and legistators are also "state employees" however, I know the teachers have received compensation increases and I believe I am correct in stating elected officials receive raises as well, are we not all state employees?
If I am working for the same salary as in 2006, all State employees should be held to the same standards. Why does the news not report that?

Wed, June 22, 2011 @ 10:15 AM

6. Bud wrote:
Thanks OPEA for addressing this. I still believe this negatitivity towards State employees (my conspiracy theory) is coming from our own State Capitol. Week after week there is negative reporting in one or all of the newspapers regarding State employees. No mention of the Senate paying 125,000. to hire a consultant for redestricting while the House did there'e themselves, talk about waste, the newspapers should start where it all begins....

Fri, June 24, 2011 @ 10:00 AM

7. state employee wrote:
I agree with Bud... Why is it the worker bee's are taking the brunt of this budget shortfall? Wouldn't the State save more money by furloughing those that make the most money and spend the least amount of time actually working? Sure wish OPEA would/could try to shift the focus to the Legislators.

Fri, June 24, 2011 @ 11:51 AM

8. A Few Facts wrote:
A little research by the reporter could have contributed to the content of the article. He reported that 16 state employees make $8000 from longevity. He correctly determined this by downloading information from a website and sorting it. He did not take the time to find out what these employees do. They are court reporters. Their ANNUAL longevity increase is $400 to a maximum of $8000. They are paid 1/12 of the annual amount each month with their regular pay. If someone wants to look into that, I say fine. As for the rest of the article, it says that 0.4% of state employees were disciplined by MPC and received longevity pay. I say that speaks well for the 99.6% who serve the state well and, hopefully, will never be involved with MPC.

Tue, June 28, 2011 @ 7:47 PM

9. disillusioned wrote:
Once again, we were told to go to college spend a fortune so you can give back by being a public servent working for the State. I don't understand, is State tuition so high as a deturant for future public servents as well as medical, co-pays, salaries and pensions. It sure seems like they want to get rid of hard working people who paid their dues both at school and for the people of Oklahoma, I guess longevity is next? This is the only querk that vaigly kept me sain after 23 years. It used to help me catch up all my expenses for one month out of the year, now it only pays for a one month supply of medicine but not sanity.

Wed, June 29, 2011 @ 8:50 AM

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