Members Sound Off on Oklahoman Letter to Editor

A recent editorial in The Oklahoman applauded the work of state employees (Kettle Call: Oklahoma Workers Taste Spice of Uncertainty). OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley wrote a letter to the editor in response to that editorial, and it was printed March 18. (Zearley’s response is below).

However, one Oklahoman reader was apparently not in agreement with the work performed by state employees, and resulted in this stinging attack:

Oh really?
Sterling Zearley (Your Views, March 18) of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association believes that Oklahoma’s greatest asset is our state employees. Let’s hope few share this belief because a great asset is something you can’t get enough of.
Jon Hill, Oklahoma City

OPEA member Scott Cosby, in response to Hill, sent this letter to the Oklahoman.

Important mechanism
In response to Jon Hill (Your Views, March 25): Sterling Zearley of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association works diligently and passionately for state employees. As a longtime state employee, I disagree with Hill’s sarcasm. If Hill has an environmental situation, an insurance company problem or issue with a highway’s condition, I guess he’d fix them all himself. State employees are an important mechanism of the state and its citizens.
Scott Cosby, Oklahoma City

State employees and OPEA members are encouraged to share their views on state employment.
Visit the Oklahoman’s website at for guidelines on letters to the editor.

Here is Zearley’s Letter to the Editor, which was printed March 18.

To the Editor:

Thank you for taking into consideration the serious plight of state employees in your recent editorial “Kettle Call: Oklahoma Workers Taste Spice of Uncertainty.”

Some of the blog postings show Oklahomans are still unaware that state employment is much different than the private sector. What they fail to realize, even though your editorial made it quite clear, is that Oklahoma’s public employees are the ones who keep the state running.

We provide healthcare services to veterans and the elderly; maintain the roads and bridges they drive on, and keep families safe from dangerous felons. We do not complain about being over-worked and under-staffed; we are thankful for our jobs and for the privilege of serving our state. However, any additional staffing cuts would certainly have an affect on services to all Oklahoma citizens.

Your editorial was a breath of fresh air for those of us who dedicate our lives to public service. We are indeed facing serious financial problems. State employees have notoriously been some of the lowest-paid workers, and we know all-too-well how to tighten our belts and stretch a budget. But that belt has been tightened too many times.

We urge our Governor and legislators to take a long, hard look at what we believe is Oklahoma’s greatest asset, and that is state employees. Protect these dedicated public servants and the services they provide to all Oklahomans.

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