The “Get On Board the OPEA Express” summer recruitment drive is in full swing and showing signs of being one of the most board-based recruitment drives in recent association history.

More than 60 state employees chose to join OPEA in the first week, which featured OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley and his staff holding meetings and visiting over 30 work locations in Northeast Oklahoma.

Zearley is committed to visiting with state employees in all four corners of the state before the end of June. “It’s a pretty big undertaking coming on the heels of a very difficult legislative session that saw OPEA protecting state employee jobs,” said Zearley. “But I think it is very important for state employees to know their association’s executive director, board members and staff are in their corner and have fought very hard for them this session. We want state employees to know that while pay raise discussions were few and far between because of the budget, we are going to use this time wisely in building the strength of OPEA so state employees will have a brighter future. We cannot go another year without a pay raise, and we are committed to making sure we are not ignored in 2010.”

The OPEA Express headed to Pryor for visits with the Grand River Dam Authority, DHS, Health Department, Thunderbird Youth Academy and ODOT employees before steaming into Wagoner. There Zearley met with employees from Wagoner County DHS as well as employees of OJA, DEQ and ODOT. “We didn’t stop there,” said Zearley. “We loaded up and headed to Claremore for additional meetings with employees at Rogers County DHS with Senator Sean Burrage before heading to the Health Department and OESC offices.

From left: State Representative Chuck Hoskin, his wife Stephanie, OPEA leader Kathy Underwood, Executive Director Sterling Zearley

“The OPEA Express finished week one by rolling to Vinita, Miami, Jay, Sallisaw and Muskogee,” said Zearley “before turning to Stigler, Eufaula, Okmulgee, and Okemah. We are working 12 hour days with our staff and volunteers to get the message out to state employees.”

The OPEA Express recruitment drive features several great prizes for the top three recruiters. The drive runs through August 21 and will reward the top three recruiters with one of the following prizes. A Dell Laptop computer, 16 gig IPod, or a one year Pre Paid Legal membership. “We also have a special on-line offer for state employees who join online at,” said Zearley. “If an employee signs up on the website, they will be given a $20 gift card. Employees signing up at our OPEA Express meetings will get a limited addition OPEA Express t-shirt that has some great artwork on it. We are hoping our new members will wear the t-shirt to meetings, outings and to convention to represent state employee pride in OPEA as well as the jobs state employees perform.”

The OPEA Express is reporting a lot of positive energy from state employees to accompany the new members. “We are running into state employees who have been members for 10, 20 and even 30 years who are proud of their association and its accomplishments,” said Zearley. “They understand all the things OPEA has done such as the benefit allowance, pay raises, longevity and many, many others. They also understand the tight budget year but are not willing to let the legislature off the hook. They are telling us to look at blue flu, sit-ins or anything else state employees can do to get the legislature’s attention. Its great to hear they have not given up on being treated fairly and are turning to OPEA, encouraging their co-workers to help provide not only numbers, but also leadership.”

The OPEA Express is in Southwest Oklahoma this week and will be pulling out for Southeast Oklahoma the week of June15-19.

“If you are not an OPEA member or your co-workers have yet to join,” said Zearley. “This is a great chance for every state employee to join with us in making 2010 the year of the state employee.”

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