In 1975, eight Department of Transportation employees decided that Oklahoma’s state employees would benefit if they would form an association to protect state employees’ interests and help state employees as they provided services to Oklahoma citizens. Thus, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association was created. Despite many challenges faced by OPEA’s founders and early members, the association has grown to be the largest and most effective voice for state employees and retirees.
OPEA is fundamentally different than other employee groups in the state. In working towards its mission, OPEA believes the best results for our members and the state of Oklahoma are achieved when we work cooperatively with Oklahoma’s 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.
OPEA is often mistakenly identified as a 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 tradition employee union. Some of the ways OPEA is different than unions and other associations are:
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. OPEA leadership is not influenced by influences outside Oklahoma who may not have Oklahoma’s state employee interests as a top priority.
The efforts of OPEA’s 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.