OKDHS County Office 55D Welcomes OPEA

OPEA recently held a luncheon at the OKDHS County Office 55D where the room was full and so were the excitement of workers! Board members Tom Dunning and Thomas Kalayilparampil were met with much enthusiasm and anticipation by the large audience.
“It gave me a really good feeling to see so many child welfare specialists with their supervisors and day care licensing workers anxiously awaiting to see OPEA,” said OPEA Membership Representative Brandon Watkins. “Being a former child welfare worker I know how seemingly impossible it is to take the time to eat lunch, let alone come to a luncheon. These guys are more than ready for some relief and answers. I believe we gave them some,” said Watkins.
“Thomas and Tom really generated a lot of excitement here today. The crowd really connected with them and asked a lot of questions covering several topics. Their stories of experience with the agency and how it relates to workers concerning OPEA is wisdom at work,” said Watkins. “If every office had leaders like those two, the process of gaining new members would be easy; and eventually become inherent in the culture of every office across the state. At this point, there will be no stopping us,” Watkins said.
“The meeting at the Juvenile Justice Building was great and we had a good turn out,” said Long-term Care worker and newly elected OPEA Board Member Thomas Kalayilparampil. The child welfare and day care licensing workers are the hardest working group, but only the bad stories get the media attention. We need to bring a state legislator to our next meeting at 55D to see the real front line workers and their struggles. We need to recruit more child welfare supervisors and workers from that office and also establish an OPEA chapter there. It was a great privilege and pleasure for me to visit them as the incoming OKDHS Board Member,” said Kalayilparampil.
“There has been a lack of involvement and action by employees and little support in the past when we even speak of raises although all feel raises are well overdue. Due to the current state of our economy people are realizing we need to make an impact for change. The only way we can be heard is to be a unified force,” said Child Welfare Supervisor Shelly Osborne. “Each worker needs to speak to their supervisors and help them realize the importance OPEA plays in the lives of state employees. If we can get supervisors on board this will in turn help unify us as a team and motivate others to create change. I believe only then will our voices be heard. If your supervisor does not support you, then the energy you could put toward fighting for what is right could possibly be diminished. Now is the time to act! We need everyone working toward the same goal and only then will we see the raises occur,” said Osborne.
“I really enjoyed the OPEA meeting we had here at 55D. I thought it was very informative; especially about informing the members and non members about taking organizational leave so they would be able to make it to Lobby Day in March ’09,” said Kinship Foster Care worker Debra Franklin. “As it stands there were a lot of employees including myself and Terri Metscher who had no idea until here recently at the meeting we could take organizational leave instead of using our sick and annual leave. I was thrilled that so many people showed up for the meeting, Tom D, Thomas K and Brandon were very informative and motivated in turn which also started motivating the employees. I noticed more employees were asking questions and participating in the discussion. Over all I think it was one of the best OPEA meetings we have had at the 55D office,” Franklin said.
“OKDHS’ staff whom protect children have one of the most stressful jobs in this agency and rarely get credit for the great work they do,” said newly elected OPEA Board Member and long-time OKDHS Aging Services worker Tom Dunning. “I was pleased to see 55D staff take time to come to our meeting and visit with us. I hope all child welfare workers will join OPEA in fighting for better pay and better working conditions. We must work together not only to improve state employment but to see that the programs serving Oklahomans are fully supported by the legislature. We have great stories to tell about the good work we do and we need to tell them to the legislature before and during the upcoming session,” said Dunning.
“OPEA encourages all supervisory staff to join and be actively involved in what OPEA is doing for the cause of state employees,” said Watkins. “It’s very important that supervisors realize the positive influence they can and do have on their workers by just being members.”
If anyone would like to become an OPEA member or learn how to become an active member of the only association in Oklahoma that works for you. Please contact Brandon Watkins at (405) 524-6764 ext. 205 or visit our website at www.opea.org for further information.

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