Members of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association at the Johnston County DHS office welcomed their state representative back from a long week at the Capitol with a perfectly timed pizza lunch. Representative Paul Roan was thankful for the opportunity to meet with friends and state employees and relax.
“This has been a long week,” said Roan. “State employees were out in full force on Tuesday. The legislature worked till midnight Wednesday and till 9 p.m. Thursday. But it’s great to be home and back among friends.”
OPEA Deputy Director Scott Barger briefed the employees on the latest information about the benefit allowance, as well as pay raise possibilities.
“Some say that a pay raise is impossible, I think we should be more creative and optimistic,” he said. “There is around $180 million that can be used from the Rainy Day fund, as well as commitments from last year that were paid for with General Revenue money that may be better suited for bonds. That would free up enough money for a state employee pay raise.”
“We would like for the Johnston County office to be 100 percent for OPEA,” said OPEA volunteer leader Deanna Gordon, who organized the meeting. Almost every employee in the office attended.
OPEA executive director Sterling Zearley challenged the office along with Representative Paul Roan that if they reached 100 percent, the Association would host a fish fry celebration with Representative Roan cooking the fish.
The Johnston County employees were also visited by a great OPEA leader from Marshall County, Phyllis Stanley from Madill.
“I have been a member of OPEA for many years and believe in this organization,” said Stanley. “Everyone should belong. Take the money from your recent DHS internal pay raise and invest it in OPEA. It will help more than you will ever know.”
“These are the gentlemen that worked hard to make sure that state employees’ benefits were not taken away,” said Representative Roan, applauding OPEA’s work in killing HB 3108. “They met with the Democratic Caucus, keeping us informed. They are very good at what they do.”
“OPEA is a tremendous organization,” he added. “I have always belonged to the Troopers Association through my 25 years in the highway patrol, retiring as the First- Vice President. “I would encourage you to join OPEA and help them take your message to the Capitol and to every state representative that may vote on a pay raise.”
Johnston County added 8 new members, Miranda McElroy, Andrea Hudgens, Tara Clary, Bob Laing, Michael Linder, Susan Hamer, Tammie Kreger, and Flora McDaniel.