Signs supporting the right of Enid city workers to form a union have popped up like dandelions in yards around town.

The signs, as well as bumper stickers, are a project of a city employee group seeking to unionize. The city of Enid has challenged the legality of a state law passed by the 2004 Legislature that allows non-uniformed employees in cities with populations of at least 35,000 to join collective bargaining units.

Eldon Stephens, spokesman for the employee group, said the signs are being distributed to those who support city workers' efforts to unionize.

"It's to let the council members know we do have support in the public. It's a way of educating the public about our cause," Stephens said.

The project began about two weeks ago, but the signs only arrived last week, he said.

Stephens called the signs and stickers a local group project, but they are being funded by members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, who came forward to help the local group gain recognition.

The Enid group has chosen to join AFSCME if it is allowed to form a union. The Enid group is not allowed to collect dues.

The bumper stickers are from the AFL-CIO, Stephens said.

"We decided to do it after the meeting (May 3) at which the commission approved a resolution allowing the formation of a union but denied the group the authority to do it," Stephens said.

At that meeting, Mayor Ernie Currier said the group does not have the support of Enid residents and does not represent what the people want.

"These signs and bumper stickers show he is wrong. Other people out there are interested in employee issues," Stephens said.

Currier said distribution of the signs will not affect his opposition to the union. He said city employees have a mayor who continues to try to do good things for them.

"They have failed to admit that, because it doesn't help them in their quest," he said.

Currier said he continues to support improved working conditions for employees.

"I'm not opposed to the signs, but they don't change my mind. My decisions are based on facts and figures and what I think is best for all involved and not based on politicians or signs," he said.

The group ordered 200 yard signs and about 200 bumper stickers. Stephens did not know how many of the signs have been distributed, but said he handed out about 40 himself. There are 10-15 others handing out signs, as well, he said.

All of the bumper stickers have been distributed, he said, and another 500 will be ordered.

Stephens said the signs are being placed in Wards 2, 5 and 6.

Those commissioners, Don Rose, John Hodgden and Todd Ging, respectively, along with Currier, voted against allowing the group to unionize.

"Our work is in those three wards. The others supported us," he said. "Eventually, we will spread it all over town."

Rose, Ward 2 commissioner, said Monday he saw a yard sign for the first time.

"What bothers me is that this is coming from Washington, D.C. It's not coming here because they care about Enid. They care about the union," Rose said.

Rose said the movement is not a "home-based" project, but is coming from people in another place.

"People from out of town are running the show, and it's not because they care about us. I would like to sit down and decide whether unions are good or not, but that's not what we are doing. It bothers me, I don't care who it is," Rose said.

Many of the people displaying signs in their yards were not at home Monday afternoon. Some appeared to have been displayed at homes of members of other Enid unions.

Marilyn Walta, 1040 Indian Terrace, said some city workers came by and asked her to display the sign.

"They said they wanted to form a union, and I said they could put up a sign. I even signed a petition. My husband (Dennis) is in a union, and it sounded like a good idea," she said.

Stephens said the local group wants the same collective bargaining rights police and firefighters have.

"I was appointed to the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission recently. It is ironic that we are fighting for the same rights the sanitation workers fought for in 1968," he said.

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