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Small Oklahoma City Votes to Restore Collective Bargaining, Bucking Governor’s Anti-Worker Law

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In a refreshing shift, Enid, Oklahoma voted in favor of changing the city charter to allow city workers to have unions represent them through collective bargaining.  The proposal passed by a 1,276-1,068 margin.  

The city had previously recognized AFSCME based on a 2004 law that required cities with more than 35,000 residents to collectively bargain with workers. In 2011, though, the legislation was repealed by Gov. Mary Fallin.  According to, efforts to get the proposal back on the ballot began in 2011 immediately after Gov. Fallin signed the workers’ rights away:

AFSCME then began working toward a campaign to restore workers’ right to organize. The city of Enid refused to call a vote and instead asked AFSCME to commit to a petition drive. Union supporters gathered enough signatures earlier this year to get their proposal on the ballot.

Now that the election is over, AFSCME will begin negotiating with the city about a contract; Enid workers have been without a contract since earlier this year and are, officially, at-will employees.

With the new rights afforded workers, AFSCME Local 1136 now will negotiate with city management or the city’s selected agent on wages, benefits and other personnel policies. Every city employee aside from management will fall under protection of the union, but President Joey Breeze said some rights, like the ability for the union to provide representation beyond negotiations with the city manager, are available only to dues-paying members.

A handful of AFSCME members gathered Tuesday night in their office, located at 215 W. Garriott, to watch election returns. Since it was a work night, they didn’t plan on partying too hard if they won.

“Whether we win or lose, we’ll be back at work tomorrow,” said past president Mike Goodpasture.

The vote represents a rare victory for unions in Oklahoma and may provide insights into the voting public’s views on parts of Fallin’s far right agenda.  In 1993, as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Fallin was named legislator of the year by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).


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