Faced with the possibility of deeper, more severe budget cuts, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association is working behind-the-scenes and around the clock to make sure state employees remain on the job.
According to the information OPEA has received, OJA has asked permission to implement furloughs, in anticipation of further budget cuts. They are waiting for information on the state budget before making a decision about whether to furlough or how many days. In mid-September, the Office of State Finance will release revenue information for the month of August. At that time, if the news is bad, state agencies will be cut and everyone in all agencies could be furloughed.
OPEA’s position in these serious budget times is:
Before employees are affected, discretionary travel should be eliminated.
Contracts should also be reduced.
Agencies should offer voluntary buy outs to employees first, furloughs second, and lastly reductions-in-force (RIFs).
“This is one of the most serious budget situations the state has ever faced,” Zearley said. “Our whole mission at OPEA is to protect state employees and their jobs. Several OJA employees have voiced their concerns to us, and threatened to cancel their membership. They need to know, as well as every state employee. We are out there working on their behalf to keep them on the job.”
“OPEA continues to be an advocate for all state employees, urging that discretionary travel be eliminated and state contracts be cut,” Zearley said. “If agencies and employees are hurting, then those private contractors who make money off the state should also feel the pain.”
“The Association is working with coalition partners to encourage state leaders to call a special session and tap the Rainy Day Fund or appropriate additional stimulus funds,” concluded Zearley. “We will know more in a few weeks. OPEA members should watch the website carefully for a call to action.”