The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 24, 2013

City rejects first union petition documents

Error forces collective bargaining proponents to request vote again

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The quest for city workers wanting to collectively bargain hit a snag last week.

According to a legal notice published by the city of Enid, there weren’t any proponents, or supporters, listed on their union’s initial documents that organizers filed May 16.

The document’s approval would have kicked off the petition process, possibly culminating in a vote later this year to decide whether city employees have the right to bargain with the city as a group.

It’s not that there aren’t supporters, union chief Michael Goodpasture said Friday.

“When we turned in our paperwork, we inadvertently left off a page where the signatures needed to be,” said Goodpasture, who is president of the local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

State law requires three registered voters sign the form notifying authorities they want to circulate a petition. Because the signatures were not included with the document, the city rejected the petition.

The organizers corrected the error and turned in the form again on Wednesday, Goodpasture said. As soon as the city signs off on its authenticity, the petition period begins.

From there, organizers will have 90 days to collect at least 402 signatures from registered Enid voters. If they succeed in gathering enough supporters, the election will tag onto the Nov. 12 election day.

City workers previously had the right to collectively bargain for wages, rules and benefits, and will have that right again if the proposal is passed. Because of changes in state law, the city no longer has to recognize the union’s role.

Enid City Commission previously refused to negotiate an updated contract and instead asked AFSCME to initiate the petition. Goodpasture said City Manager Eric Benson has been fair in previous negotiations with the union.