by Helen Cox | November 22, 2013
ENID, Okla. – Residents of this small town in the heart of the conservative southwest voted earlier this month to restore collective bargaining rights to city employees. It was a dramatic victory that put an exclamation point on a nearly 10-year campaign by the workers there.
City employees gained the right to collectively bargain in 2004 but lost it in 2011, when Gov. Mary Fallin took it away.
AFSCME members of Local 1136 spent the summer gathering signatures and getting an amendment to the city charter placed on the ballot. They showed their neighbors how the union fought for safer working conditions, a fair working environment, better efficiency and accountability. By walking door-to-door and calling their neighbors, AFSCME members were able to secure the votes they needed to win.
Much of the Enid community was already familiar with Local 1136’s charitable activities. The local raised $12,500 to help area charities with three annual car shows, contributed $2,000 to a veterans’ memorial, and regularly supports other community activities.
The International Association of Fire Fighters, International Association of Machinists, Fraternal Order of Police and American Postal Workers Union stood shoulder to shoulder with Enid city workers in the fight to regain their rights. This election marks the first time unions coordinated their activities with such laser focus. Now, local union members are staying better connected than ever before.
Since July, Enid City workers have been without a contract. Now, they can return to the bargaining table.
It’s going to allow us the right to bargain with the city management over working conditions, give us a voice in the workplace, a voice for the citizens of Enid,” Local 1136 Pres. Joey Breeze told the Enid News and Eagle. “We’re out every day talking to them, hearing their concerns. It allows us to go back to management and say what citizens are saying and would like to see.”
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