About OPEA

In 1975, eight Department of Transportation employees determined that Oklahoma state employees would benefit by forming an association to protect and improve state employees’ interests. Thus, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association was created. Despite many challenges, the association has grown to be the largest and most effective voice for state employees and retirees.

OPEA believes the best results for our members and the state of Oklahoma are achieved when we work together and cooperatively with Oklahoma leaders. OPEA may not always see eye-to-eye with lawmakers, but through on-going dialogue about important issues we can make progress for Oklahoma.  Some of what OPEA has achieved for state employees since 1975 are listed below.  We are proud of our accomplishments and look forward to many more in the future!

  • Obtained more than a dozen state employee pay raises and cost-of-living adjustments for retirees since 1976
  • Established longevity pay for state employees in 1982
  • Obtained health insurance coverage for state employee dependents in 1992
  • Increased health insurance coverage for dependents from 50% to 75% in 2001
  • Established SoonerSave in 1998 and got state matching contribution in 2000.
  • Obtained Disability Insurance for state employees in 1985
  • Established state employee leave sharing program in 1990
  • Obtained additional paid holiday at Christmas in 2010
  • Obtained Death Benefit for Retirees in 1987
  • Created state Employee Assistance Program in 1992
  • Obtained increase in paid annual leave in 2001
  • Established severance benefits in 1997
  • Mandated counseling and paid administrative leave be provided to state workers assaulted or witness to traumatic events at work in 2017
  • Capped number of double-shifts that can be required of DOC corrections officers in 2016

OPEA is often mistakenly identified as a “union” and while employee unions can be effective in supporting some types of employees, it is important to point out how OPEA is different than a traditional employee union. Some of the ways OPEA is different than unions and other associations are:

  • OPEA is not affiliated with any unions and is prohibited from doing so. Our bylaws read; “This Association shall not become affiliated with, become part of or endorse any labor union”.
  • State employees voluntarily join OPEA to have a unified and consistent voice advocating on issues impacting state employees and retirees. Issues may include compensation, retirement, insurance and quality of employment.
  • In Oklahoma, state employees are not employed under a collective bargaining agreement so OPEA is not involved in these types of negotiations as a union might be. OPEA bylaws prohibit members from striking and the association does not endorse government employee strikes.

The association is guided by a board of directors comprised of active members elected from across the state. Since OPEA is independent of any national unions, all dues received stay in Oklahoma to help carry out the association’s mission.

The efforts of OPEA members and staff improve state employment for our members. However, we are also committed to improving the wide-array of services provided by state employees to our fellow Oklahomans. To continue the improvement made during our 40 years of service, we look forward to working with front-line employees and state leaders for many years to come.