More than 800 technical and administrative office employees have voted to have a voice with Local 1180, joining some 1,000 other Tulsa municipal workers represented by AFSCME.
“Having a union means that we can work together to improve conditions on the job and give employees a voice at work,” says Public Works employee Laureen Gilroy.
Over the last 15 years, city officials have twice thwarted the employees’ efforts to join Local 1180. That changed in April 2004 when state lawmakers passed an AFSCME-supported law that granted municipal collective bargaining rights to Oklahoma communities with 35,000 residents or more. Challenged by local governments, the statute was ultimately upheld by the state Supreme Court.
On May 9, Oklahoma’s Public Employees Relations Board certified the new bargaining unit after a majority of workers submitted signed cards indicating their interest in joining with AFSCME. The employees will begin negotiations for a first contract within 60 days, as specified by state law.
“Now is the time for the union members of this new unit to roll up our sleeves and get our first contract to cement our rights,” says Mark Stodghill, president of Local 1180.
About 80 non-supervisory 911 operators and 25 airport police officers also are represented by Local 1180.
Tulsa is one of nine Oklahoma cities whose employees have organized with AFSCME since passage of the 2004 law. The others are: Edmond, Lawton, Midway City, Moore, Muskogee, Norman; Oklahoma City and Enid were the first municipal workers to organize with AFSCME under that law. This April, some 700 Enid and Lawton employees became the state’s latest to win first contracts.