The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 6, 2013

Enid city commissioners postpone AFSCME election


Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Enid residents will get to vote on whether city employees can form a collective bargaining unit.

It just won’t happen as quickly as some would like.

The local chapter of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees had hoped to have its election in November. Members distributed petitions, gathered signatures and earlier this month turned in enough to earn a spot on the ballot.

However, Enid city commissioners Thursday night did not approve an emergency clause.

That means, instead of voting on the issue in November, residents will have to wait until next year, in January at the earliest.

City employees previously had the right to bargain collectively. State law had required cities with populations of at least 35,000 to let their municipal employees form collective bargaining units, which is a type of union.

The law was repealed in 2011, and the city chose to send the decision to a vote of Enid residents.

That’s why AFSCME members circulated the petitions to gather signatures to get the issue up for a vote.

Rejection of the emergency clause wasn’t anything that should be seen as anti-worker.

Enough city commissioners decided the issue wasn’t an emergency. That happens quite often with city votes.

In the past several years, Enid city management and employees have had a good working relationship, even since the state law was repealed in 2011.

The election will happen. At this point, we just don’t know when. Then, it will be up to the people of Enid to decide the issue.