OPEA Hosts Lunch Meeting at Wagoner OKDHS

The Oklahoma Public Employees Association held a pizza lunch recently for employees at the Wagoner OKDHS. Employees talked during the lunch meeting about salary concerns, longevity, and retiree cost of living (COLA).

“State lawmakers gave retirees the 4% raise in an election year, but there is a tremendous need for the retirees to receive that 1% raise every year to meet their needs in these economic times,” said Membership Representative Reba Turner Robinson. “They have paid into the system while they were employed, and now it is being held for security down the road. But some seniors may not be around in four years to receive their election year 4% COLA. They only are asking for 1% this year,” Robinson said.

“Most of the employees know their senators and representatives but have not been in contact with them,” Robinson said. “Numbers make a difference in the eyes of the legislature. That’s why it is so important for state employees to get involved in OPEA and contact their lawmakers; talk to them and advise them how state employees feel about not receiving a pay raise for four years.”

During the lunch meeting, one employee asked about other groups who supposedly represent state employees. “I answered that question honestly,” said Robinson. “When you join OPEA, your fees never leave Oklahoma to pay for problems in other states. Also, OPEA has full representation at the state Capitol every day of the session…not only by staff members but also full-time lobbyists. We also have a legal advocacy program and grievance assistance which no other group has. There are so many positives to becoming a member of OPEA,” Robinson said.

Another item of discussion was the work load and no pay increase that continues to create heavy turnover in state employment. Director Phillip Sullivan inquired about Chapters. Each chapter has its own agenda within the OPEA By-laws. This allows the interaction of all OPEA members. There is camaraderie and solidarity within each interest group and the cohesiveness serves as a retention factor. Through the officers and activities becomes an information channel. Board members are elected though the Chapters and the Council. The Board depends on the strength of Chapters and Councils.

“It was a very successful meeting,” Robinson said. “Patricia Wyers saw the benefits of membership in OPEA and became our newest member.”

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