OPEA Board and Staff lay out platform items for 2009
OPEA’s Board of Directors met recently to address platform issues for the upcoming legislative session.
The Board worked through the weekend, prioritizing issues ranging from a long-term compensation plan to increased longevity. Protecting employee benefits is also on the agenda.
“Once again, state agency directors are concerned about the unfunded health insurance mandate, and legislators are looking for a way out of funding state employee insurance,” said Trish Frazier, OPEA Policy and Agency Relations Director. “We will be working hard to preserve benefits OPEA has fought for in the past. We can also expect to see another threat to privatize state pension funds and turn them into a 401 (k) type program, such as SoonerSave,” Frazier said.
Proposed legislation for a compensation package provides for a $2,000 across-the-board pay increase for all state employees, effective July 1, 2009, with an additional 2.5 percent increase each year until the cost of state employee turnover has been reduced to $40 million per year.
On a related note, another piece of legislation asks that state employees be moved to market pay within four years. Market pay would include items such as overtime, shift differential, hazardous duty and holiday pay.
A proposed longevity bill would double the state’s longevity program and index it in the future; meanwhile a 2 percent cost of living adjustment would be added for OPERS retirees.
“We have a long road ahead of us,” said OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley. “It will require all OPEA members standing united, showing our legislators that state employees deserve a fair salary and benefits. I urge all OPEA members to talk to their co-workers about the benefits of OPEA, then taking that next step to become a member. If all 36,000 state employees joined OPEA, there’s no end to what we could accomplish together.”
OPEA members are also urged to invite their legislators into their worksites to show them what they do for the people of Oklahoma. They may also discuss concerns about pay, staffing and turnover. OPEA staff will help you set up a worksite visit with your legislator by phoning OPEA headquarters at 405.524.6764 or 800.880.6732 for toll-free outside the Oklahoma City metro area.