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Oklahoma Municipal Workers Win Historic First Contracts

April 22, 2008

April 22, 2008

Some 700 employees of the cities of Enid and Lawton have become the latest Oklahoma municipal workers to win first contracts under a 2004 state law championed by AFSCME all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The Lawton City Council gave its final approval on March 25 to a two-year contract covering 450 non-uniformed workers represented by Local 3894. The employees had earlier voted overwhelmingly for the agreement.

The Lawton employees’ new contract includes a 3 percent wage hike through 2009, a $225 signing bonus, improved vacation, a grievance procedure, binding arbitration protection and a reduced probation period for promotions.

In Enid this February, 255 non-uniformed employees – members of Local 1136 – voted unanimously for their first contract, which city commissioners also ratified after more than a year of negotiations.

Enid’s employees won a 7 percent across-the-board wage increase from March to July, followed by a 5 percent hike beginning July 1 that extends through 2009. In addition, the contract includes a $300 signing bonus, increased longevity pay, a performance-based merit-pay plan, a grievance system and arbitration protection.

These two historic contract victories follow last October’s first contract victory by some 90 employees of the city of Moore, who are represented by Local 2406. Moore’s employees were the first to negotiate and ratify a contract following passage of a 2004 state law that requires cities of 35,000 people or more to recognize non-uniformed workers’ unions.

Challenged by several cities, the statute was ruled unconstitutional in July 2005 by the state’s highest court. AFSCME appealed, and in March 2006 the high court reversed itself and declared the law constitutional. Since then, municipal employees of Lawton, Enid, Moore and Edmond have exercised their freedom to join AFSCME. Edmond employees are still working to win their first contract.

Read more in the Enid News & Eagle.

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