OKLAHOMA CITY – A plea was made to help the ‘forgotten ones’ who guard prisoners, inspect restaurants and provide emergency care for foster children.
The Oklahoma Public Employees Association held a news conference on Thursday to highlight the fact that state employees haven’t seen a pay raise in more than a decade.
The group is throwing its support behind a new $246 million House bill to give 33,000 full-time and part-time state employees a bump in pay.
Currently, 8,000 state workers make less than $30,000 a year.
To highlight the desperate need, the OPEA executive director read letters from state workers during the news conference.
“My pay is $96 less than last year, the year before I lost $101, the year before that I lost $38. The state is the only place I know that the longer you work, the less you bring home. This is unacceptable. Everything else is going up… food, utilities, etc. We had to get rid of one of our vehicles so we could have a little bit more per month,” read Sterling Zearley, OPEA executive director.
That employee went on to say that he loves his job but doesn’t know how long he can hang on before looking for work in the private sector.
The OPEA says many employees are working harder, like corrections officers, since there are 4,200 fewer state employees than in 2008.